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A look at Oklahoma's care homes for the mentally disabled

By Gavin Off and Ginnie Graham - Tulsa World Staff Writers Modified: February 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm •  Published: February 22, 2010

He said Bishop worked at another health-care home before the warrants were issued. He credits the victim’s father for pushing officials into action.

“We had to light a lot of fires to get people to look into this,” Svedman said.

Torture Death

Some abuse allegations don’t appear in inspection reports but are referred to local police or the Attorney General for investigation.

In February 2007, Lamar James Rouce, a certified nurse aide-in-training with Westview Living Center in Guthrie was charged with felony caretaker abuse after he pushed down a 59-year-old male resident, an arrest affidavit states. Court affidavits state the resident was hospitalized with a punctured lung, fractured ribs and a broken nose. He was treated and released from a Logan County hospital.

Rouce pleaded guilty in 2008 to a reduced charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct with bodily injury.

Calls to Rouce were not returned, but a family member said he is not living in Oklahoma and is attending school. Oklahoma’s nurse aide registry lists him as unemployable because of abuse.

At Westview in 2002, June Etta Rose, 68, was raped, killed and mutilated while living at Westview Living Center in Guthrie, court records show.

Fellow resident Thomas Bruce Ensley raped and stabbed Rose, according to a lawsuit filed by Rose’s brother, Billy Kouts.

Ensley was charged with first-degree murder, but his mental retardation has prevented him from standing trial.

Kouts sued the home for failing to prevent the attack and supervise its residents. The home and Kouts have settled the suit.

“To me, it was mainly unsupervised properly for the residents,” Kouts said. “When I was growing up with her, I had to keep an eye on her.”

But the Health Department never faulted Westview’s policies, said the home’s administrator Antoine Smith. In fact, unlike some homes, Westview Living Center has tallied no fines and few violations since 2006, health department reports show.

“We were never cited by the state,” Smith said. “There was no wrongful cause.”

Compliance through fines

The state Health Department is fining home owners to force more compliance, Huser said. Homes were fined nearly $87,000 since 2000, with the highest of $24,000. State inspectors can suggest these homes not be recertified by the federal government, but that is a long process, Huser said. The homes are inspected annually.

Administrators are critical of the inspections, saying state officials have a nursing-home, medical focus. But they rarely challenge the violations, fearing retaliation.

Scott Pilgrim, owner of Country Cottage in Beggs, said inspections could be changed with a more resident goal-oriented focus. He said some state nursing-home regulations do not apply to these types of homes and not all inspectors are consistent.


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