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(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that the Department of Justice has just concluded the first civil prosecution of a nursing home chain and its owner/operator for corporate elder abuse, resulting in penalties, Medi-Cal restitution and court-enforceable improvements to protect elderly residents.
The enforcement action involves Kensett Moyle III and three Moyle companies that own or have operated eight nursing homes in Tulare, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The penalties and required improvements to ensure quality care for residents are provided in a settlement approved by the Riverside County Superior Court.
"This groundbreaking case takes department action for the first time against a nursing home owner and reflects my priority and commitment to fighting elder abuse," Lockyer said. "Our elderly living in nursing homes should be able to live their lives in dignity and without fear of being abused or having their lives threatened by neglect or shoddy care."
Lockyer and his Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse received word of court approval of the settlement during a three-day elder abuse training conference that has drawn over 300 prosecutors and law enforcement officers. The conference in Palm Springs is co-sponsored by the Attorney General and AARP, who are working in partnership on a new campaign of public education and elevated enforcement to protect elderly Californians against elder abuse.
In the Moyle case, an investigation by the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse found numerous quality of care and other violations between 1997 and 2000 at eight Moyle nursing homes. Nursing home violations included substandard health care for patients resulting in health-threatening bed sores, malnutrition, inadequate personal hygiene, patient dignity issues, medication problems, patient accidents and injuries, falsified patient health care records, inadequate care and assessment of patients, lack of adequate staff and patient trust account irregularities.
While closing or selling four of the facilities, Moyle continues to operate in Tulare County the Porterville Convalescent Hospital in Porterville, Merritt Manor in Tulare and Kaweah Manor in Visalia. Moyle also continues to operate Browning Manor in Delano, Kern County. Moyle closed Moyle's High Desert Convalescent Hospital in Yucca Valley, San Bernardino County; and sold Moyle Manor and Moyle's Sky Harbor Healthcare Center, also in Yucca Valley. He also sold Moyle's Indio Convalescent Hospital in Riverside County.
While admitting no wrongdoing, Moyle agreed to pay $360,000 in civil penalties; $25,000 in restitution to the Medi-Cal program for services either not rendered or inadequately rendered; and $50,000 for partial reimbursement of investigative costs. Moyle also agreed to pay $40,000 for new comprehensive staff training and to implement specified administrative and quality of care reforms.
The settlement also requires specified improvements in the way Moyle nursing homes provide patient care, including regularly scheduled bathing of patients, periodic release of restrained patients, increased monitoring and prevention of bed sores, increased monitoring and use of infection control techniques and additional staffing when required by the needs of a resident. Moyle also must create a "compliance committee" to oversee the performance of his remaining nursing homes and appoint a compliance officer at each.
"These required improvements will be monitored by my Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse," Lockyer said. "The changes will ensure that the care provided to residents exceed minimum standards and make up for years of neglect and abuse."
Since becoming Attorney General in January 1999, Lockyer has added 20 new prosecutors and investigators to the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse to investigate and prosecute abuse, neglect, and poor quality of care problems in skilled nursing facilities. He filed the Department's first criminal complaint against a nursing home in May 2000. The criminal complaint against Orchard Gables is pending in Los Angeles Superior Court. The Attorney General's Operation Guardians recently entered its second year of surprise inspections of nursing homes.
"Over the course of the past three years, the Department of Justice has filed almost four times the number of cases than were filed in the prior five years combined," Lockyer said. "With the increased number of prosecutions and surprise inspections under Operation Guardians, we are waging an aggressive battle against elder abuse in nursing homes."