Families claim poor care, unsanitary conditions at Pleasant Acres

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Pleasant Acres Nursing Home. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

Some officials with York County and the Pleasant Acres nursing home say allegations of neglect at the facility are exaggerated or altogether untrue.

Facing a multimillion-dollar annual subsidy to keep the nursing home afloat, the county sold Pleasant Acres to Premier Healthcare Management in 2018, and the company took over operations in October.

On Wednesday, a number of people attended the York County Commissioners meeting to tell the board their relatives are living in unsanitary conditions with dirty floors, dirty dishes and soiled laundry.

Other complaints included low staff numbers and injuries occurring during routine care procedures, with some residents allegedly not getting enough to eat.

"My mother has to clean her silverware with hand sanitizer and toilet paper before she eats," said Sarah Pasquoche, of Red Lion.

Pasquoche went on to say her mother, who has a tracheotomy tube, was made to vomit when one of the staff members pushed the tube too far down. Her mother is often given food that she can't chew and ends up going hungry, she said.

Cindy Price, of Glen Rock, said she found her mother wearing a nightgown during a recent daytime visit because the laundry service was so backed up.

Price also said her mother's fingernails were "filthy" and that she had to repeatedly ask the nursing home staff to clean them at several visits over the course of a week.

"My mother puts her fingers in her mouth all the time," Price said. "Would you want that for your parent? Who knows what’s under her fingernails, because they're black."

In November, state inspectors noted wet and soiled linens and towels on the floors of one resident's room and four residential bathrooms, along with strong odors of urine.

The same report noted that there was one licensed nurse for each of four hallways on the fifth floor of the facility and only five nursing assistants to help those nurses care for the 78 patients on the floor.

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"Every concern that is brought to our attention, just like it was with the county, is being addressed," said Lisa Sofia, CEO of Premier. "And unfortunately, a lot of things that were said are not true."

Sofia attended the commissioners meeting to present a $66,000 check to the county for a bed-sharing initiative with WellSpan and to provide an update about the nursing home eight months after the privatization.

She wasn't present during the public comment period, but she responded by phone later Wednesday.

Sofia said Pleasant Acres recently switched to a new laundry vendor and that there has been some delay in the process but that comments at the meeting claiming a three- to four-week turnaround time were false, she said.

She also said the staff can't help it if somebody goes into a room and makes a mess of it and the staff doesn’t see it right away.

Having a dirty floor at one point in time doesn't mean it's dirty all the time, she added.

"If the condition of the home and the level of care was as it was described today, I just can’t imagine that the (state) Department of Health would not have interceded somehow," said Commissioner Chris Reilly.

Reilly said he understands it's an emotional issue and that he didn't want to discount everything the family members said.

But when the county still owned Pleasant Acres, the Health Department had the facility under a microscope, he said. And Premier is probably under just as much scrutiny.

President Commissioner Susan Byrnes said it was difficult to hear the stories of bad experiences from family members of residents because she'd heard from some other families that, after the initial transition period, conditions had improved at the nursing home.

"To hear that our residents are not being taken care of the way we all want them to be taken care of is disappointing," she said.

Byrnes said she would meet with Sofia and other leadership at the nursing home to address the concerns of the family members.

Commissioner Doug Hoke said he was surprised and taken aback by the comments but also that there are two sides to every story.

The county no longer owns the facility, Hoke said, and he isn't sure how much the commissioners can do aside from facilitating meetings or conversations if there are issues that need to be addressed.