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Pa. health secretary creates task force for nursing home allegations

Ben Schmitt
| Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, 5:22 p.m.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Karen Murphy introduced a task force Wednesday aimed at probing inadequate care allegations — including dirty conditions, scant staffing and food deprivation — in a lawsuit against a chain of nursing homes.

Last month, Attorney General Kathleen Kane sued Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC, which manages and operates 36 Golden Living facilities throughout Pennsylvania, accusing it of misleading consumers by failing to provide basic services to elderly and vulnerable residents. The lawsuit alleges Golden Living violated the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law by deceiving consumers through its marketing practices.

“I was deeply disturbed by these allegations regarding some Pennsylvania nursing homes and said we would take immediate steps to address the situation,” Murphy said Wednesday.

Golden Living facilities made about $54 million in profit between 2008 and 2013, according to the 95-page complaint in Commonwealth Court. The majority of its income came from residents and the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program, the complaint said.

Fourteen of the 36 centers in question are in Mt. Lebanon, Monroeville, Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Altoona, Lansdale, Clarion, Gettysburg, Phoenixville, Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Tunkhannock, Erie and Pottsville.

Reached Wednesday at its corporate office in Plano, Texas, Golden Living officials referenced a July 6 statement from its president and CEO, Dr. Neil Kurts, which states: “We plan to vigorously defend the reputation of Golden Living and its employees.”

The task force plans to review regulations and identify areas in which the department can improve to ensure that nursing homes operate safely and provide high levels of care.

Ben Schmitt is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com.

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