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Inspector General Appointed to Oversee Nursing Home Facilities

Pasadena skilled nursing facilities are tied to 85 percent of local Coronavirus deaths

Published on Saturday, June 27, 2020 | 4:15 am
Max Huntsman at right. At left, two images taken during the mass evacuation of a Pasadena skilled nursing facility earlier this month which authorities alleged was providing substandard patient care. Images courtesy Los Angeles County and RMG News

Max Huntsman, Los Angeles County’s inspector general overseeing the sheriff’s and probation departments, was appointed Friday as interim inspector general overseeing the county’s skilled nursing homes.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on May 26 to appoint an inspector general to oversee skilled nursing home facilities, which have accounted for over half the county’s COVID-19 deaths, according to Celia Zavala, executive officer of the board.

In Pasadena, 76 of the 89 residents who have died from Coronavirus-related causes became infected in local skilled nursing facilities.

On June 11, the State Attorney General’s Office ordered the mass evacuation and relocation of 63 elderly patients from one Pasadena skilled nursing facility, due, according to a Pasadena spokesperson, “to lack of patient care including response to COVID.”

Huntsman is responsible for developing recommendations to help strengthen oversight and improve operations at the county’s skilled nursing homes, which have “historically received low marks for quality of care, patient satisfaction and employee pay,” Zavala said.

Huntsman’s first duty as interim inspector general overseeing the county’s skilled nursing home facilities will be reviewing the county’s oversight mechanisms for nursing facilities, then providing a “proposed scope of work” to the Board of Supervisors by Aug. 1, which will include a schedule for completing a full report on his findings.

Huntsman will have to report back every 60 days until the final report is complete.

“I am in strong support of the board’s desire to do everything we can to improve nursing home care,” Huntsman said. “My staff is looking forward to working closely with state and county partners to identify an emergency management system and oversight process that will promote the best care possible for this highly vulnerable patient population.”

“We’re reaching out to medical professionals in and outside of government and working closely with the auditor-controller, with whom we have a strong working relationship. We hope to help bring about real change.”

Huntsman, who has worked for the county for 29 years, has been the inspector general overseeing accountability for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the county’s Probation Department since 2013.

Huntsman previously worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, where he gained a reputation leading anti-corruption efforts, conducting investigations and prosecuting white collar crime, Zavala said.

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