I was glad to see criminal charges have now been filed against Pamela Ott, the Administrator at Kern Valley Healthcare District, after several employees of the facility allegedly used psychotropic medications to control the behavior of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Ott is now facing eight felony counts of elder abuse.
The instances of nursing home abuse allegedly occurred between August 2006 and January 2007 when the employees intentionally over-medicated residents with anti-psychotic drugs at Kern Valley Skilled Nursing Facility to keep them quiet and make them easier to handle.
As the administrator of the Kern Valley Healthcare District, Ott was responsible for supervising the operation of a small community hospital and skilled nursing facility in Lake Isabella, CA.
A Healthcare Ombudsman who witnessed a resident of Kern Valley being forcibly held down by nursing home staff and injected with drugs brought the situation to the attention of authorities. In total, 22 residents of the California nursing home were believed to be intentionally drugged by the threesome. Additionally, the deaths of three residents are also believed to be related to the improper drugging.
“As hospital administrator, Pamela Ott, was responsible for the safeguarding the welfare of her patients. Instead, Ott abdicated her responsibility and allowed the staff of the Kern Valley Hospital to forcible sedate patients who questioned their care,” said Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Among the three nursing home employees who have already been criminally charged:
- Gwen Hughes, 55, the former director of nursing
- Debbi Gayle Hayes, 51, the facilities former pharmacist
- Dr. Hoshang M. Pormir, 48, a staff physician at Kern Valley Healthcare District who was the medical director at the skilled nursing facility
In situations involving dangerous patient care, it is important that elevated officials at the facilities be held responsible. I am glad to see that this Attorney General did a thorough investigation and is moving forward with criminal charges for Ms. Ott’s supervisory role in this situation.
Read more about this case involving over-medication in a California nursing home here.
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