Litchfield News

New administrator: Fernwood issues being corrected (03-12-13)

Fernwood Rest Home was cited for more than 40 violations by the state Department of Public Health. BZ photo

A temporary manager has been hired at Fernwood Rest Home in Litchfield to help the facility correct more than 40 violations found by the state Department of Public Health during a surprise inspection in November.

John Horstman, who has 42 years of experience as a licensed nursing home operator, on Tuesday said he is working with staff on corrective measures regarding the violations, which were announced by the state on Thursday.

Horstman was brought in upon the suggestion of the Department of Public Health and the state Attorney General's office. According to Horstman, many of the violations are easily correctable and resulted from paperwork not being filed in a timely fashion.
"No residents were harmed and no one was ever in jeopardy," Horstman said. "I don't want people to think horrible things are happening here. That's not the case. Some things that needed to be kept up with weren't."

Fernwood is a local institution, having been owned and operated by the family of Raymond and Vivian Adkins for 60 years. It has 54 residents and 25 staff members, none of whom will require disciplinary action, Horstman said.
"The staff has been extremely cooperative is helping us address the issues," Hortsman said. "We are certainly prepared to take disciplinary action if necessary, but so far we don't feel a need to."
The Adkins family will remain involved in the business after the corrective actions are taken, according to Horstman, who replaced Vivian Adkins as manager and is tasked with hiring a new permanent manager.
"The Adkins family has gone above and beyond over the years," Horstman said, noting that Fernwood is a residential and not a medical facility.

The violation, which resulted in a $2,000 fine for Fernwood, centered on patient safety and medication and the treatment of patients. According to the state's inspection report, residents were called "monkeys" and weren't being given enough food. Eleven of the violations cited improper administering and storing of medication.

The "monkeys" comment, Horstman said, was overheard by one resident. The staff member who uttered the comment has resigned, he said.
"That was a shame, and it shouldn't have been said," Horstman said of the remark.
As for the claim that not enough food was being provided, Horstman said residents receive three square meals a day and that food was never withheld. More snacks are now being made available throughout the day, he said.
Horstman is working on a report outlining corrective measures being taken to address the violations and expects to have it completed by the end of the month. A follow-up inspection by the state is expected in April, he said.

Since the state announced the violations, Horstman said he has heard from many relatives and conservators of Fernwood residents. Most expressed support for Fernwood and its treatment of its residents.
"Our residents and their families are quite happy with the care," Horstman said. "Some of these things sound more horrible than they are, but as I've said no resident was ever in jeopardy. In some cases, a lack of knowledge by staff was the problem. That's all being addressed."