Thursday, June 18, 2009

License not renewed for York Springs nursing home
State inspectors said they found 33 violations -- many of which were repeats -- at Whispering Pines.

For the Daily Record/Sunday News

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has not renewed the license for an Adams County nursing home for alleged violations that include rodent feces, expired medications and not evacuating all residents during a fire drill.

A parent company, Talex Inc., owns Whispering Pines in York Springs. The department's inspection report listed Julia Harris, a York Springs borough council member, as president.

Harris would not identify other stockholders in the company.

In 2005, the state listed her husband, Phillip B. Harris -- a former borough auditor -- as affiliated with Talex when it alleged that the nursing home failed to have workers compensation insurance. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to five misdemeanors in Adams County Court of Common Pleas and was sentenced to 60 months in the intermediate punishment program.

DPW spokeswoman Stacey Witalec said that, during a March inspection, state inspectors found 33 violations, 12 of which were repeat violations from 2008, at the facility in the 400 block of Main Street.

"It goes on and on," Witalec said about the list of violations.

She said Whispering Pines was already operating under a provisional license, a probationary status that results in more inspections and closer examination.

Julia Harris said Thursday the company has made several changes in upper management at the facility and that numerous policy and procedure changes have been put in place.

An administrator handles the day-to-day business of the nursing home, she said.

"Unfortunately Whispering Pines had numerous violations in their most recent inspection," Harris wrote in an e-mail. "I have been assured that all cited violations have been corrected."

One of the more-serious violations dealt with fire drills, Witalec said. In two separate drills, a resident was left behind, inspectors reported.

"It is absolutely critical to go through a fire drill and know how to evacuate everyone in a timely manner," Witalec said.

Julia Harris, however, said the report does not accurately reflect what happened.

"A specific resident of the facility refused to participate and evacuate the building," she said.

Harris said Whispering Pines documented the resident's refusal, as it was advised to do by the state. Still, the state cited the facility again when a resident refused to leave.

"Whispering Pines is a very good home," Harris said. "But, as usual, DPW makes up new rules, and each inspector looks at them differently."


Violations at Whispering Pines nursing home, according to the state Department of Public Welfare's report:

--- On several occasions in February, a lone staff member on the overnight shift was not certified in first aid. At least one staff member for every 50 residents must be trained in first aid, according to the report. This was a repeat violation.

--- A large amount of rodent feces was found on the floor and on the shelves in the home's pantry.

--- The fire-alarm system had malfunctioned and displayed five trouble codes, and two fire extinguishers were not charged.

--- Several medication violations were found, including insulin that was not refrigerated, expired medication, unaccounted-for pills and improper documentation.


The owners of Whispering Pines have filed an appeal and can operate the facility through the appeal process. However, the Department of Public Welfare has prohibited the facility from taking in new residents during the process.

The first step is a hearing June 23 with the department's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals.

After the appeal, either party -- Whispering Pines or the department -- may ask for reconsideration of the decision from the department secretary. From there, either side can appeal to Commonwealth Court.


For inspection violation reports and licensing status of Pennsylvania care homes, visit and click on "Personal Care Homes Directory."

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