Nursing facility under investigation again

MONTROSE — Officials at the state attorney general’s office say investigators are looking into a recent incident involving a nursing facility patient who ran away and barricaded himself in a neighborhood restaurant.

Officials declined to comment further on the July 26 incident, but confirmed it would be “wrapped up” in additional investigations into the Montrose-based Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre for abuse and neglect of a suicidal patient who eventually killed himself, said Nicholas Pacilio, a spokesman for the agency.

[Update: The attorney general's office on Thursday clarified that the July 26 investigation was separate and in addition to the current indictment against the center.]

Calls to the facility went unreturned on Wednesday.

In the most recent incident, Glendale police officials said the patient fled about 7:53 p.m. through the front doors of the facility in the 2600 block of Honolulu Avenue, prompting nurses to chase him for a block.

But the patient — whom officials did not identify — ended up hiding inside the bathroom of the Cibo Thai restaurant, where he claimed he had two guns and planned to shoot someone.

The patient, who was admitted into the facility earlier that day for paranoid schizophrenia, reportedly told police he was being held against his will.

When he emerged from the bathroom, police didn’t find any weapons inside.

Officers placed the patient on a psychiatric hold and took him to Olive View Medical Center.

Police reported the incident to Los Angeles County and state officials for investigation, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

While no other incidents have been reported at the facility since July 26, police officials said its failure to operate properly has sapped resources.

“Obviously, because of its proximity to the community, it has caused some issues,” Lorenz said.

The safety of residents who live near the facility “does come into question,” he added.

The facility came under scrutiny after 34-year-old Charles Morrill killed himself on Feb. 28, 2009, by discharging a handheld fire extinguisher down his own throat, officials said.

Before killing himself, Morrill had made three similar attempts, officials said.

The investigation into his death led to a grand jury indictment last month against Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre and its former administrator, Phyllis Paver.

Paver and the facility face one felony count each of dependent adult abuse and neglect.

The state attorney general’s office claims that the facility knowingly accepted Morrill despite its lack of training to care for mentally ill patients.

If convicted, the facility could lose federal funding and its license.

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