Nursing Homes Part-owned by Oklahoma Legislator Cited for Violations

May 8, 2008

An Oklahoma state legislator who partially owns two nursing homes that have been cited for health and safety violations said his facilities struggle with the same issues faced by every nursing home.

Hugh Robert, executive director of the Oklahoma Center for Consumer and Patient Safety, said the problems found at nursing homes partially owned by Rep. Doug Cox are troubling and part of a larger problem concerning nursing home legislation.

“Even though it wasn’t the worst problems … the fact that they have a significant number of deficiencies would give rise to potential for negligence or abuse,” Robert told The Oklahoman.

Robert has been critical this legislative session of Cox for stripping Senate Bill 1459 of a requirement that all state nursing homes carry $250,000 of liability insurance.

Cox, R-Grove and head of the House Public Health Committee, said he supports homes carrying liability insurance, but added that most homes can’t afford it.

“I don’t want to see a third of the homes put out of business,” Cox said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health found problems at nursing homes in Fairland and Kingston that ranged from failing to have a registered nurse on staff and giving residents the wrong medication to lesser lapses such as employees without name tags, the homes’ inspection records show.

The homes were cited for 14 and 12 deficiencies, respectively, which is more than the statewide average of eight yearly deficiencies, according to Health Department records. The problems have since been fixed.

“I’m proud of the care we give,” Cox said. “It’s real personalized care. Because it’s small, the help gets to know the patients well enough to where they almost consider it like family.”

Health Department officials and Cox, a family care doctor who oversees medical operations at the homes, said similar problems are found at other state nursing homes.

The problems at Cox’s nursing homes weren’t immediately threatening to residents, said Dorya Huser, chief of long-term care for the state Health Department.

“We want people to be deficiency-free, but certainly we’ve had much worse,” Huser said.

Cox said his sister and brother-in-law run most of the day-to-day operations at the homes.

Cox has had an ownership stake in the homes for 10 years and has been taking care of patients in nursing homes for 30 years, he said.

Information from: The Oklahoman,

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