State places temporary manager at nursing home after ‘concern for health, safety of residents’

COLUMBIA, Pa. (WHTM) – Health and safety concerns following a recent inspection of a Lancaster County nursing home have led to the installation of a temporary manager.

The most recent survey of Susquehanna Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Columbia is not available to the public. Department of Health inspections are not released until 41 days after the exit date of the survey. However, Health Department spokesperson April Hutcheson says there were “deficient practices that caused concern for the health and safety of the residents.”

The temporary manager is from a company called Senior Health Care Solutions. That person will make recommendations and oversee changes until there are improvements.

ABC27 aired a report in September investigating conditions at Susquehanna Valley after former staff members shared a video of cockroaches and expressed concerns about filth, neglect, and under-staffing. Previous Department of Health inspections supported their stories.

Vita Healthcare Group has owned the facility since June 2015.

ABC27 confronted the administrator of the facility at the time, Ralph Gottlieb, and was able to determine that the cockroach video was recorded in Susquehanna Valley’s kitchen.

Vita Healthcare Group says Gottlieb is no longer employed at the facility or with the company.

In the months following that report, the Department of Health conducted more frequent inspections because it put Susquehanna Valley on a provisional license. Over the last six months, those surveys show the facility failed to investigate and report abuse, neglect, and misappropriation of resident funds, failed to provide a sanitary environment, allowed strong odors of urine to persist, and failed to follow physicians’ orders.

Hutcheson did not say if the most recent inspection outlines similar concerns.

Aaron Lichtman, an attorney for Vita Healthcare Group, sent ABC27 a statement saying, “New Ownership at Susquehanna Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation recently completed a beautiful restoration at a cost of more than $1 million while facility leadership, talented clinical staff and caring line-staff worked tirelessly to provide high-quality patient-centered care.”

“In the last several days, we got a huge boost from the appointment of a new senior level administrator who has successfully led buildings, groups of building and has served as the chief operating officer for a 20-facility chain in his distinguished 35-year career and from the additional resources the state provided in the form of temporary managers who have been invaluable in assisting the facility in a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures.”

“We thank our loyal residents, family members, the Department of Health and those in the community who have expressed support for our efforts and successes. From every challenge, we grow closer to fulfilling our goal of being the premier resident focused facility in the state of Pennsylvania.”

The statement did not address recent health violations.

Lichtman also sent ABC27 several pictures.

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