The Westside Health Care Center nursing home and its adjacent Terrace at Westside residential-care facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, had become known as the home of last resort for the poor and mentally ill. Many of the residents had been kicked out of other nursing facilities and halfway houses. Many had drug addictions or mental illnesses.
It seemed as if there was no one else to care for them.
A recent investigation has revealed that the residents there were subjected to deplorable living conditions, resulting in the nursing home closing and the Cincinnati Health Department being stripped of its ability to license and inspect skilled nursing homes and residential-care facilities, according to the Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer.
It all began last February when Cincinnati police officer Aaron Layton dropped by the facility in search of a suspect. He didn’t find the person he was looking for, but what he did find stopped him in his tracks. The condition of the home was sickening.
Officer Layton got a search warrant and returned 16 days later with other investigators and officers in tow. They were shocked at what they found: exposed wires, leaking sewage, soiled and torn mattresses, vomit on the floor, broken toilets, unqualified employees, improperly stored drugs and people languishing in their own waste.
“There was no compassion, no sympathy for people who were living in these conditions,” says Councilwoman Laketa Cole. “The very people you’d expect to be a proponent for them, failed them.”
The Ohio Department of Health reportedly inspected the facility in January and found 10 deficiencies. Just eight days before the raid in March, the state had cleared the facility of seven of the 10 problems cited, the Enquirer stated.
After months of debate, the City Council concluded city health inspectors had failed to protect the residents and ordered the city’s health department’s licensure and inspection responsibilities be handed over to the state.
Facilities administrator Abe Fischer could serve jail time because of 27 alleged building and fire code violations. He could learn as early as next week if the residential-care facility will lose its city license. The state began fining Fischer this spring – a bill that has reached more than $100,000 – and mandated that he no longer take on new Medicaid cases, according to the story.