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I-Team: State cited more than half of RI nursing homes

By Jim Taricani

The NBC 10 I-Team has uncovered hundreds of deficiencies in dozens of nursing homes around Rhode Island.

And it has uncovered new information about the target of an I-Team investigation: the Pawtuxet Village Care and Rehabilitation Center in Warwick.

The I-Team has been poring over hundreds of pages of deficiency reports for the past several weeks. The reports were issued by the Department of Health to nursing homes around the state.

Of the 90 nursing homes in Rhode Island, 59 have been cited by the Health Department for deficiencies that range from minor to life-threatening.

What the I-Team found was stunning:

Staff members forgot to remove medication patches from patients

Complaints of bed sores, nutrition and diet errors

A patient overdosed because a medical technician "forgot to break a pill in half"

For the past month, the I-Team has been investigating complaints at Pawtuxet Village, where the deficiencies found by the Health Department include a 19.5 percent medication error rate. The department also said a resident was placed in a wheelchair without a safety belt and fell out of the chair, fracturing her right arm. And allegations of overdosing date back eight years.

Pawtuxet Village has been cited over and over again during the past eight years for serious deficiencies. And now, the I-Team has uncovered something relatives of loved ones here find shocking. A nurse, a unit manager, is working at the nursing home while she's serving a home confinement sentence.

Court records show that Kelly Denomme is serving a six-month home confinement sentence for her second DUI conviction. Her criminal record shows she's twice admitted to simple assault and resisting arrest.

So what does it take to shut down a place like Pawtuxet Village?

"It takes repeated violations. Some of them, it could be a single violation as long as it's corrected. The thing is, when you have a complaint, it's an allegation, first of all. That's important to know," said Peter Hanney of the Rhode Island Department of Health.

But it looks like the Health Department might take drastic action against the Pawtuxet Village nursing home. The I-Team obtained the nursing home's response just a week ago to the possibility that the state would shut down the nursing home.

The Pawtuxet Village Care and Rehabilitation Center is contesting and appealing many of the deficiencies found by the Health Department. But department sources told the I-Team that this nursing home, which has a long history of serious deficiencies, is not doing a good job.

A representative of the nursing home told the I-Team that it did do a background check on the unit manager who's serving a home confinement sentence and cleared her to work at the facility.

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