Health & Medicine

Letcher personal care home is cited after resident allegedly hurt in fight

A Letcher County personal care home that's had a litany of problems since 2007 was issued the state's most serious citation this week after a resident allegedly was injured during a fight.

The problems at Letcher County Golden Years Rest Home at Jenkins are indicative of those seen at many — though not all — personal care homes in Kentucky, said Marsha Hockensmith, director of Protection and Advocacy, a state agency that advocates for the mentally ill and mentally disabled.

Personal care homes are a less skilled form of long-term care. They provide meals and some assistance with medication and tasks of daily living.

Golden Years received a Type A citation from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Office of Inspector General on Monday. A Type A citation indicates a resident's life or safety has been endangered because of violations of state regulations.

According to the citation, a resident was taken to the emergency room for treatment of wrist injuries March 29 after the resident was involved in an altercation at 11:30 p.m. Six residents told state investigators there was no staff member on the floor at the time of the fight.

"Interviews revealed the midnight shift did laundry all night and would make rounds three or four times during the night to check on the residents," the citation said.

Facility officials told state investigators earlier that they would have a staff member on each floor at all times by April 12, the citation said. But an inspection at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. April 27 revealed "residents were left on the floors unsupervised," according to the citation.

Jonah Tackett, administrator of the rest home, said Friday that he expects to appeal the Type A citation because a staff person was on the floor the night of the March 29 fight but had stepped outside the door momentarily to sweep the porch.

Within 15 seconds of the altercation, said Tackett, a staff person was on the scene with the residents involved. Ultimately, Tackett said, "nothing was wrong" with the resident who went to the emergency room.

Tackett also said he had corrected problems found in past inspections. The Herald-Leader reported in January that a December inspection by the OIG revealed unsanitary conditions and expired medications. Allegations from the December inspection included charges that residents were allowed to bathe only every other day because there were no clean towels and that there had been no milk in a month because the bill hadn't been paid.

In January, Tackett told the Herald-Leader some of the allegations in the December investigative report were misstated or overblown.

Other problems documented at Golden Years since 2007 include the conviction of former administrator James "Chum" Tackett on abuse charges, the death of a resident who wandered away and froze, and an indictment of James Tackett in 2010 for allegedly taking $500,000 in state and federal payments to residents over four years.

He and the facility pleaded not guilty to the charges.

That case is scheduled for trial in Letcher Circuit Court starting Oct. 3.

James Tackett is Jonah Tackett's grandfather.

James Tackett's criminal problems are separate from the facility's regulatory problems, officials have said.

According to the Secretary of State's Web site, Golden Years is owned by Letcher Co. Golden Years Rest Home Inc. Jonah Tackett is listed as its chairman.

In Kentucky as of January, there were 82 free-standing personal care homes and 90 that were attached to nursing homes.