COLUMBUS — An investigation by the Ohio Department of Health into allegations of abuse by employees of the Lima Rehab and Nursing Center against former resident Susan Washington has determined those charges to be “unsubstantiated.”
The investigation did result in three citations against the nursing center, including its failure to develop an abuse policy, failure to report alleged violations to the ODH and failure to investigate an allegation of abuse.
Based on those and numerous other violations and infractions at the Lima facility this year, the nursing center stands to lose its ability to collect reimbursement from the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid admission patients — a move that state officials say would almost certainly lead to the closure of the facility — if those shortcomings are not brought into compliance by October.
The nursing center gained negative national attention earlier this month after a photo showing severe bruises on the face of Washington was shared on social media. A report was filed with the Lima Police Department on July 3 in reference to facial injuries the woman allegedly sustained at the nursing center, located at 599 S. Shawnee St.
The case of the 70-year-old Washington, dubbed “Grandma Sue” in social media posts generated by activist/rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris attracted national attention after photos of the injuries she sustained at the nursing center first appeared on social media.
On July 10 nationally-known human rights attorney Ben Crump traveled to Lima for a press conference and rally, saying he had been retained by Washington’s family.
“Today there are 3 million people across America asking, ‘What happened to Grandma Sue?’ And we are here to get answers,” Crump said during his Lima appearance. “We know what happened at best is neglect; at worst it’s abuse.”
Crump said Washington had a history of falls while at the nursing center, and “we believe that the fact she had been diagnosed with dementia should have placed (nursing home officials) on notice that she did not have full control of her faculties. It’s just fortunate the Susan Washington did not suffer fatal injuries when she fell.”
While the facility was absolved by the state of the elder-abuse allegations involving Washington, other shortcomings at the Lima Rehab and Nursing Center were identified by the Ohio Department of Health investigation. Those included the failure of administrators to conduct proper background checks on employees, the failure to provide proper discharge notice for a resident and failure to monitor and prevent pressure ulcers. Additional citations were issued for discharge care planning, quality of care, diet, infection control and environment.
According to Jose Rodriquez, deputy communications director for the Ohio Department of Health, citations against the facility resulted in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issuing a Discretionary Denial of Payment for New Admissions order on June 12.
“We have sent a notice which includes a recommendation that all previous remedies remain in effect, adding a recommendation that CMS impose a civil monetary penalty, and the facility is still on track to terminate its provider agreement on Oct. 23. We have received a corrective action plan for the facility that is currently under review,” Rodriguez said.