Special Reports

Attorney general reaches agreement with Hazard nursing home in sex-abuse case

Attorney General Jack Conway on Tuesday reached an agreement with the former administrator of Hazard Nursing Home and the company that owns the facility; the agreement could lead to dismissal of criminal charges of failure to report the suspected sexual abuse of a resident, spokeswoman Allison Martin said.

Sheila Noe, the administrator who also was acting on behalf of the company that owns Hazard Nursing Home, "was made aware of the suspected sexual abuse of a patient by another patient on Aug. 8, 2009, and failed to report the suspected abuse to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services," as required by state law, Conway said when the charges were filed in 2010.

The charges of failure to report abuse and neglect, filed in Perry District Court, have been deferred. If Noe and the company that owns Hazard Nursing Home meet certain stipulations within six months, the charges will be dismissed, Martin said. If not, criminal charges will be filed again, she said.

The agreement requires Noe and Hazard Nursing Home to pay a $20,000 fine to the Civil Monetary Fund, which is intended to help nursing home residents and is administered by the cabinet.

The agreement requires all nursing homes under the same ownership to conform their policies to state law requiring timely reporting of abuse and neglect. All the employees in all the nursing homes under the same ownership will have to undergo additional training in reporting abuse and neglect, Martin said.

Noe has retired and no longer will be allowed to work as an administrator, Martin said.

Jeffrey Morgan, an attorney representing the family of former resident Mae Campbell, who was sexually abused, said the agreement did not reflect the seriousness of the failure to report the abuse.

"It's a travesty of justice," Morgan said, asking, "How do you expect changes" in the nursing home industry?

Martin said the case was handled as it was because Hazard Nursing Home is the only nursing home in Hazard. She said if there were a guilty plea by Noe or the nursing home, the home would have lost its Medicaid funding and would have closed.

However, Morgan said the nursing home could have remained open under different ownership.

If found guilty of failure to report abuse and neglect, Noe would have faced up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine, Martin said.

State records show that the home's parent company is First Corbin Long Term Care, owned by Forcht Group of Kentucky. Officials with the Forcht Group did not immediately return a telephone call late Tuesday afternoon.

The Forcht Group Web site said First Corbin Long Term Care owns nine nursing homes, two in Corbin and one each in Barbourville, Campton, Hindman, Harlan, Hazard, Hyden and Williamsburg.

In the Hazard case, the cabinet issued the state's most serious citation on June 1, 2010, saying a resident's life or safety had been endangered because of violations of state regulations. Investigators from the attorney general's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control initiated a criminal investigation.

The Herald-Leader last year reported on the incidents of suspected sexual abuse involving Campbell, 88, who has Alzheimer's disease. Her family identified her to bring the problem of sexual abuse in nursing homes to the public's attention.

According to the Type A citation, a male resident blocked Campbell inside his room in August 2009. When nursing home staff members found her, she had semen on her. The male resident's "penis was exposed," the Type A citation said. In another incident, described in a deposition, Campbell was sitting in the hallway of the home in 2009 when, within sight of a nursing supervisor and other staff members, a male resident walked up and ejaculated on her face.

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