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Pittsburgh nursing home fined $235K in death of lawmaker's father

Ben Schmitt
| Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, 8:48 a.m.
Robert Frankel
Robert Frankel

The state Health Department has fined a Pittsburgh nursing home $235,000 in connection with the September death of 89-year-old Robert Frankel.

The Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Squirrel Hill was hit with the fine Dec. 13, according to the Pennsylvania Health Department's website.

Frankel, the father of state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, was found dead Sept. 17 in a room at the nursing home. His head was caught between a side rail and his bed's mattress, according to the Health Department report. The report, issued in November, said improper use of bed rails contributed to his death.

The nursing home turned down all the rails in the facility within an hour of the event, according to the report, and the center has removed all bed rails in the facility since then, Phil Ricci, the center's administrator, said.

“After the department's recent audit of our facility, we submitted a plan of correction that addressed each of their concerns,” Ricci said in a statement Monday. “The department subsequently approved the plan and informed us that we are in full compliance with their regulations. Now that the department has determined to revisit its resolution of these issues, we intend to work with the department and the procedures it provides to resolve these issues.”

The nursing home is on the campus of the Jewish Association on Aging on JHF Drive.

According to its website, “The Morris Center is staffed 24 hours a day by a team of devoted, professional registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nurse's aides. The excellent care they provide to residents is what distinguishes the Morris Center among nursing homes of comparable size in this region.”

Frankel was admitted with health conditions including Alzheimer's disease and severe cognitive impairment, according to the November report, which doesn't name him. A care plan from 2015 said he needed bed rails because of impaired physical mobility but that staff members were expected to continue to assess his ability to use the rails.

In June of last year, contractures in his left hand led staff to splint it, according to the report. His ability to use the side rails should have been reassessed after the hand problems, an unidentified nursing director from the home said in an interview with inspectors, according to the report.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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