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Officials Evacuate Nursing Home

PARRYVILLE, Pa. -- A Parryville assisted living center where 44 residents were evacuated Sunday with four taken to the hospital after the temperatures soared inside the buildings was operating on a provisional license because of previous violations, state documents show.

Air conditioning in Eastern Comfort Assisted Living IV at 2941 Cherry Hill Road was inadequate for the heat wave hitting the area, and temperatures in the facility's two buildings hit 96 degrees Sunday, officials said.

"They had air conditioners in the common areas in both homes," state Welfare Department spokeswoman Anne Bale said. "All the sleeping rooms had fans. But with [Sunday's] high heat, they were not enough."

Bale said she did not know the condition of the residents taken to hospitals.

The evacuation was called after two ambulance calls to the facility in which crews found residents overcome with heat exhaustion, said Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Nalesnik.

The borough fire chief and Parryville Mayor Gary Parker, who also serves as the borough's emergency management agency coordinator, ordered the evacuation, Nalesnik said.

Nalesnik said the residents were evacuated to at least seven facilities.

A woman who answered the telephone at the office of owner Stephen J. Miga of Bethlehem on Monday afternoon said he was not in and to call back at later. A later call was answered by a woman who said Miga was not available.

Miga owns five assisted living buildings one each in Easton, Allentown and Slatington, and the two buildings at the center in Parryville.

All except the Parryville homes are in compliance, Bale said.

On Monday, nine air-conditioning units were being installed in the buildings, Bale said.

An air-conditioning unit on the facility's deck Monday had a note attached saying only staff was allow to control the temperature.

"The residents won't be allowed back until they are installed and approved," she said.

The state is conducting an on-site investigation.

"Depending on our investigation, that will indicate the next steps," Bale said.

There were 51 people living at the facility at the time of the evacuation, according to the state, but Parker said only 44 were there to be evacuated. All, however, had to be relocated until the buildings reopen. Bale said that 19 were taken to personal care homes, 21 to nursing homes, four to hospitals and seven to their families.

According to the Web site www.paelderlaw.com, Eastern Comfort Assisted Living IV is a for-profit facility with 72 beds, including 13 private rooms, and a nursing staff on duty 24 hours a day. The facility has two buildings; each building has 36 beds.

The site listed the cost for Eastern Comfort's residents at $1,050 to $1,800 a month for 2004-05, the latest figures available.

The center was on the provisional license through this Sunday because of numerous violations, Bale said. The provisional status "means we have serious health and safety concerns," she said.

Multiple small incidents may add up to dangerous conditions, she said.

A Dec. 5, 2007, inspection listed numerous violations, including how residents' finances were handled, staff credentials, including criminal history checks, training and documentation, documents show.

Some were minor, including failing to have tweezers in a first aid kit. All of the violations were fixed as of Jan. 2, according to the department.

chris.parker@mcall.com

610-379-3224

CENTER VIOLATIONS

Eastern Comfort Assisted Living IV center in Parryville was cited for 30 violations in a Dec. 5, 2007, inspection by the state Department of Public Welfare.

All were corrected as of Jan. 2, the department said.

The violations included not having:

Accurate financial records for three residents.

Timely state police criminal history checks for two employees also violated in April 2006.

Documentation that a direct care staff person had a high school diploma, GED or active status on the state nurse aid registry.

A staff person trained in CPR and firstaid working the 3-11 p.m. shift on Nov. 29, 2007.

Provided the required 12 hours of training and detailed documentation for one employee for 2006.

Replaced a worn carpet in Room 13 that smelled moldy and musty, a violation also noted in April and September 2006.

Documentation that the center's sewage system was approved by Parryville, a violation also noted in April and September 2006;

Cleaned up trash candy wrappers, a sock and dryer sheets behind the dryer in one building.

Documentation that water was tested quarterly for coliform bacteria.

A bedside lamp for a resident.

Telephone numbers displayed on or near several phones.

Proof the home's written emergency procedures were filed with local agencies.

An emergency drill during sleeping hours every six months.

Initials, printed name and signature of staff who administered medication Dec. 1-5, 2007.

Emergency evacuation diagram posted near two sleeping rooms showing "you are here."

Source: State Public Welfare Department

McClain and others on the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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