MIDWEST CITY — The state has fined a nursing home $168,000 for taking in a convicted murderer, a rapist and two other felons injured in a prison riot.
The inmates, who stayed at the Midwest City home for nearly a month, were shackled to their beds, not far from the typical residents one would find in any nursing facility.
Detailed in a report by the state Health Department, the unusual arrangement at the nursing home is described as “bizarre and reckless.”
Dorya Huser, chief of long-term care for the state's Protective Health Services, said the inmates' stay at Buena Vista Care and Rehabilitation Center is “completely shocking … and I've been doing this a while.”
According to state documents, the inmates were at the nursing home from Oct. 19, 2011, to Nov. 15, 2011.
Huser said it's the first time she's heard of such a thing.
“To put felons in a nursing home is just appalling,” she said. “They had been convicted of extremely serious crimes, and that in itself would make them a danger to other residents.”
Buena Vista was fined an additional $180,000 for other infractions uncovered during an inspection earlier in the year. These fines arose from failure to comply with various provisions required of facilities that get federal money.
Huser said the realization that four dangerous felons had lived at the nursing came during a routine inspection in March.
“We went in there to do a regular survey and came upon this,” Huser said. “Everybody was puzzled as to how on earth this happened.”
Huser said residents of the facility were “very much impacted” by the presence of the inmates, who were shackled and chained to their beds and watched at all times by two armed guards.
“The prisoners were taken through the facility, at times, and the residents saw them during that time,” she said. “It was very unsettling for them. Try and imagine that.”
The investigative report also indicates a third guard was assigned to patrol outside the building for invaders — a troubling possibility, Huser said.
“What if the people the inmates had got into it with to begin with had located them,” Huser said. “I think the home got lucky that nothing happened.
“In truth, they had felons in there that were involved in a riot. They didn't know who was going to show up at the door.”
All of the inmates at North Fork Correctional Facility are from California, which began transporting prisoners out of state years ago to ease overcrowding.