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12.1.2001, Aribert Deckers
Operation Guardians Making a Difference, Prompting Nursing Home Improvements
(OAKLAND, Calif.) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued a report on Operation Guardians in northern California, where the multi-agency task force in its first year of surprise inspections has triggered improvements in the quality of care and living conditions at nearly two dozen nursing homes.
"Operation Guardians is making a difference," Lockyer said. "The surprise inspections are triggering positive changes in the facilities visited. Never knowing when an inspection team could come knocking gives other nursing homes new incentives for ensuring the quality care of elderly residents. With the productive first year, we are looking to expand Operation Guardians to other areas of the state."
The Attorney General's report, "Operation Guardians - 2001 Annual Report for Northern California," (ATTACHMENT) covers 22 inspections in six northern California counties between April 2000 and March 2001. Results of the task force inspections ranged from near-complete compliance to problems significant enough to be referred to law enforcement or regulatory and/or licensing agencies. Surprise nursing home inspections were conducted in the counties of Alameda, Fresno, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento and Santa Clara. "We are finding nursing homes responding to the surprise inspections by quickly addressing many of the problems cited," Lockyer said. "For elderly and dependent Californians in these facilities, this means rundown and unsafe nursing home buildings are being fixed, improvements are being made in the quality of care they receive and renewed attention is being given to their dignity. At the same time, major problems have been referred for further investigation and possible enforcement actions."
Problems found in Operation Guardian inspections fell generally in five categories:
Operation Guardians is a cooperative effort of the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse; local district attorneys, local fire departments and the federal Office of Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services. The University of Southern California School of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, and the Medical Board of California also have been part of the team. Elder abuse ombudsmen also have participated locally.
In the operation, state investigators, local fire marshals, code enforcement officials and patient-care specialists make unannounced visits to nursing homes selected randomly by the Attorney Genearl's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse. Local inspectors review physical structures for sanitation, safety and fire hazards, while health experts help detect any abuse and neglect of nursing home residents. State and local prosecutors are available to bring criminal action if warranted. Health quality violations are referred to the state Department of Health Services (DHS). These surprise inspections complement the regular inspections required to be conducted no less than every 15 months by DHS, which is responsible for licensing and regulating the state's approximately 1,500 skilled nursing home facilities.
PDF-Document: amacal01.pdf (01_036.pdf)
The Attorney General's report: "Operation Guardians - 2001 Annual Report for Northern California,"
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