Reassignment of Los Angeles County Nursing Home Supervisor

With California making national news over elder abuse at nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs), it may not come as a surprise that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reassigned Ernest Poolean, the “supervisor in charge of nursing home inspections,” only a few days following the “release of a highly critical audit of his division,” according to an article in Kaiser Health News.

Old Guy

Poolean’s reassignment suggests that the California Department of Public Health is beginning to look at nursing home neglect more closely and has decided to make elder abuse an important issue in Los Angeles and throughout the state.  If your elderly loved one has suffered injuries as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s very important to contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer. At the Walton Law Firm, we are committed to helping older adults throughout Southern California.

Chief Inspector Reassignment Details

Ernest Poolean has been working for the County of Los Angeles since 1968.  By 2011, he had become the head of the Health Facilities Inspection Division (HFID).  However, a recent memo to staff at the Health Facilities Inspection Division indicated that Poolean had been reassigned to the Baldwin Park headquarters, and Terri Williams, the assistant deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, would be taking over for Poolean.

Terri Williams wrote the memo to her staff, emphasizing her plans to improve the Health Facilities Inspections Division.  “As I become familiar with the program,” she wrote, “I have full confidence that solutions can be identified during this difficult media time to make Health Facilities shine.”  Williams also explained that Poolean’s new role would include work on a “special assignment” under the direction of Williams.  In other words, the memo made clear that Poolean has been removed from a clear-cut supervisory role.

What happened?  An audit in early April suggested that the Health Facilities’ inspections record was not up to snuff.  In fact, according to an audit report from the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller, “there were more than 3,000 open investigations in nursing homes, including 945 that [had] been open for more than two years.”  The audit report also underlined that inspections appeared to have “no central management,” and current inspectors had no specific deadlines for finishing up case investigations.  In short, the audit suggested that the HFID had been guilty of the inspection delays and omissions included in many recent complaints lodged against departments of public health across the state of California.  According to the audit, “without time frames/benchmarks to complete investigations, HFID is not conveying expectations to their staff and cannot hold them accountable for their performance.”

The audit came shortly after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors received a report from Kaiser Health News about a backlog of nursing home abuse inspections.  As with many other elder abuse complaints in California, Los Angeles County supervisors “had instructed staff members to close cases without a complete investigation in an attempt to whittle down the backlog.”  And these serious errors have no financial explanation.  While some counties in California suffer from a lack of funding, the HFID “found the department was not using all the funds at its disposal, leaving $2 million in each of the last two fiscal years unused.”

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

Reporting and inspections are extremely important for holding nursing homes and RCFEs accountable for nursing home abuse and neglect.  If you believe your elderly loved one or another older adult has been subject to personal injury at a San Diego nursing home or assisted living facility, contact an experienced California elder abuse attorney as soon as possible.

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

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