Mich. AG Sues Nursing Home Chain After Death of Resident

March 8, 2006

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has filed suit against Metron Integrated Health Systems and three of its nursing facilities located in Allegan, Big Rapids, and Kalamazoo.

“No one should have to check their dignity at the door of a nursing facility,” said Cox. “Michigan’s seniors and vulnerable adults deserve a safe and healthy place to live.”

Eight employees of Metron of Big Rapids nursing facility were recently charged by the Attorney General with a variety of criminal offenses, including involuntary manslaughter, stemming from the death of an oxygen-dependent resident in January 2005.

Nursing facilities that serve Medicaid patients are required to comply with state and federal laws designed to promote high quality care. They are also subject to yearly inspections by the Department of Community Health. Inspections of the Big Rapids facility by the Department of Community Health in 2004 and 2005 led to 27 and 12 deficiency citations, respectively, which are significantly above the state norm of seven deficiencies per inspection.

Evaluations of Metron’s Allegan and Kalamazoo nursing homes also reportedly established that these two facilities have been operating in a manner that could endanger their residents. After receiving 6 deficiencies in 2004, Metron of Allegan was cited for 21 deficiencies in 2005. Similarly, Metron of Kalamazoo’s evaluation was worse in 2005, with an increase from 8 deficiency citations in 2004 to 15 in 2005.

Cox added: “The Metron facilities in Michigan received more than $32 million from the State of Michigan Medicaid program last year. But even if they didn’t get one penny from the taxpayers, Metron still has an obligation to protect the heath and safety of all of their residents.”

The Attorney General’s complaint was filed in Ingham County Circuit Court. In addition to requesting damages for Medicaid funds paid for care that was deficient, the complaint seeks injunctive relief against Metron designed to improve its operations and bring the three nursing homes into compliance with state and federal laws.

“Nothing that is said or done can bring Sarah Comer back to life,” Cox said. “But what we can do is take strong legal action to help ensure that no one else needlessly loses a life or suffers injury or neglect at any of the nine Metron facilities in Michigan. All men and women in nursing facilities deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and their heath and well-being needs to be safeguarded from the moment they enter the front door.”

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