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Nursing home staff took inappropriate photos of residents

Bluegrass Care and Rehabilitation Center in Lexington has been cited by state officials who allege that the staff used personal cell phones to "inappropriately photograph and make audio recordings" of residents without their knowledge, according to documents from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The staff attached songs with sexual lyrics to the photographs and circulated them to other staffers, Cabinet spokeswoman Beth Fisher said.

On April 10, 2009, the home on Pimlico Parkway received a Type A citation, the most serious that a nursing home can receive, according to documents that the Herald-Leader received under the state Open Records Act.

"There was no evidence that the facility had identified or trained staff that using residents' pictures and/or recordings of a sexually exploitative nature were a form of abuse," the citation said.

"Interviews with facility staff, including aides, licensed staff and housekeepers, revealed this was a usual event that was not recognized or identified as abuse; therefore staff failed to report the abuse to their supervisors," it said.

Jo Ann Lovell, the nursing home's administrator, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the nursing home administration conducted "a thorough investigation which resulted in the dismissal of several employees."

"Bluegrass Care and Rehabilitation Center's foremost concern is the care and protection of its residents, and we have taken this matter very seriously," Lovell's statement said.

The citation given by the state said the nursing home was not enforcing its policy that staff members could not have cell phones in resident-care areas.

Lovell said Tuesday that officials had re-educated the entire staff on the facility's existing policy regarding the cell-phone prohibition. The state has no regulations regarding employees' use of cell phones.

The Type A citation said that, as a result of the recordings and photographs, the state considered seven residents to have been abused.

"The facility failed to have an effective system in place to ensure (that) residents were protected from abuse," the citation said. "The facility's failure placed residents in imminent danger."

Fisher, the Cabinet spokeswoman, said a civil fine of $6,550 a day was imposed by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services because residents were found to be in immediate jeopardy.

Lovell said Bluegrass Care's administration "is currently working in conjunction with state and federal agencies to insure that our residents are protected now and in the future."

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