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October 11, 2002 - State cites Ohio City nursing home

An Ohio City nursing home where state investigators say residents were abused is again accused of putting them in danger. State health inspectors found that on Sept. 24, a nurse at Franklin Plaza Extended Care hit an elderly man and fractured his nose, according to their report released yesterday. The Health Department cited the 227-bed home, saying it violated state regulations prohibiting resident abuse.

Penalties range from filing a plan of correction to fines of up to $3,000. Franklin Plaza administrator Jason Coe filed a police report on the incident, 10 days after the assault. The victim was identified as Donald Tyhulski, 79. His family heard about it only earlier this week when a police detective called one of his sons. "If someone punched him real hard, they could've killed him," said Tyhulski's son, Robert. He and another son, Ron, said their father, a former Republic Steel worker, has Parkinson's disease and some mental problems and can barely get around.

Although no charges have been filed, the licensed practical nurse was fired Sept. 27. The nurse still has a valid license, according to the Ohio Board of Nursing. Only three months ago, Franklin Plaza assured the Health Department that it "continues to protect the safety of residents entrusted to our care." The statement was part of a response to the department's April 26 inspection that found 13 violations of nursing home regulations, including a verbal threat by a nursing assistant against a resident. But inspectors concluded that the Sept. 24 incident was another violation of the same regulation against abuse. And again, administrator Jason Coe defended the home. "Franklin Plaza has a very strict policy of not tolerating any mistreatment of any kind of residents," he said in a written statement. All employees undergo criminal and other background checks, he said.

The state's Long-Term Care Ombudsman office in Cleveland has verified 36 complaints about Franklin Plaza since June 2001, including neglected medical problems. According to the police report, Tyhulski received medical treatment for a broken nose at Franklin Plaza and identified the nurse who he said hit him, although he suffers from dementia. The report says the nurse claimed "he became very aggressive, grabbed her and pulled her down, bumping their heads."

Cleveland police reports also show that Franklin Plaza employees have accused each other of theft and assault this year. In January, an employee said a nurse attacked her.The employee said the nurse bit her middle finger during an argument. No charges were filed. The Health Department sent inspectors to Franklin Plaza on Oct. 3 after The Plain Dealer passed along information about the Sept. 24 incident from an anonymous caller, said Kurt Haas, a supervisor in the department's Bureau of Long Term Care. But last week, health officials had declined to name the home under investigation because of a policy that keeps confidential the name of the person reporting possible violations. In this case, the nursing home made the report, as state rules require. The name of the home was released only when the investigation was complete.

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