Ohio Nursing Home With Meth Lab Fire Was Cited Previously

By KANTELE FRANKO | March 8, 2012

An Ohio nursing home where a 31-year-old man died after a meth lab fire that injured several other people was cited for 18 violations last year, including not providing adequate care, according to state records obtained Tuesday.

The victim was not a patient or employee of Park Haven Home in Ashtabula, authorities said as they sought to uncover how the meth lab was set up in a resident’s room and how long it went undetected. Police said charges were expected against two men who were also burned in the fire.

The fire broke out Sunday night, east of Cleveland, authorities said. Three residents and two non-residents were hospitalized, including Shaun Warrens of Ashtabula, who died Monday at a Cleveland hospital. An autopsy was planned Tuesday.

Police believe two visitors and one Park Haven resident knew about the meth lab, Police Chief Robert Stell told the Star Beacon of Ashtabula.

The home’s alleged violations in a December survey included not providing adequate care, failing to investigate how a resident was injured and not properly responding to residents’ complaints about missing property.

An earlier review of the facility, in June, resulted in citations for two violations, including one alleged to have put residents at risk of harm. Park Haven failed to provide proper urgent care for one resident pained by a fractured leg and a second who had critical changes to her vital signs and level of consciousness, according to the survey findings.

The home did not respond to a message left Tuesday.

According to a federal rating system, the nursing home has the lowest possible rating – one star out of five – for health inspections and quality measures. In 2010, inspectors determined that the building did not have a written emergency evacuation plan. That was one of 11 fire safety violations that were noted in 2010 and 2011.

The Ohio Department of Health, which inspects nursing home operations annually to ensure they follow state and federal guidelines, is investigating the Park Haven fire, spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said. The department also visits homes to follow up on complaints from patients, their relatives, workers or others.

“We’re very concerned about the safety of all the residents,” she said.

The fire, which damaged one room and part of the second-floor hallway, began just after 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters were on the scene until about 1:45 a.m. Monday.

The condition of the hospitalized wasn’t available Tuesday. Two others were treated at the scene.

Citing the investigation, Lt. William Parkomaki said Ashtabula police would not yet release details of how the lab was set up to make methamphetamine, a highly addictive illegal stimulant often cooked in homes with flammable components. Photos released by the fire department showed charred walls and floors.

It’s not uncommon for meth labs to be discovered in abandoned buildings, isolated properties or even urban homes. But Parkomaki said it’s the first he’s heard of one in a nursing home.

“It’s created quite a stir, and rightfully so,” he said. “The methamphetamine problem is a very, very big problem, not only in our county and our community, but in communities and counties across the country.”

State officials say more than 300 meth labs were broken up last year.

Auditor’s records show the nursing home in far northeast Ohio was built in 1950 and has 31 rooms. On its roster were 39 names, Ashtabula Fire Chief Ron Pristera said.

The state Department of Aging and the Department of Job and Family Services also are looking into what happened.

(Associated Press writer Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.)

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