On July 21, 2021, the Washington State Department of Health published a news release detailing the revocation, suspension, and decertification of a number of health care professionals. Of the four members who were disciplined, three of them were long-term care providers.
Washington State has a myriad of options for long-term care. The state has 189 licensed long-term care facilities including nursing homes, adult family homes, and assisted living facilities, as well as facilities like retirement communities, independent living facilities, and continuing care retirement communities that do not require licensing at the state level.
By comparing the overall ratings of licensed long-term care facilities provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these facilities have an average overall rating of 3.6 stars with 26 facilities flagged for abuse citations. Additionally, one Washington home, Arcadia Healthcare at University Place, could not be rated because it is a member of the HHS Special Focus Facility.
According to the HHS, a special focus facility cannot be rated “due to a history of serious quality issues.” This facility must also undergo HHS inspection more frequently and be subject to more intense, escalating penalties. If this facility fails to impactfully reform, they risk “potential termination from Medicare and Medicaid,” a major source of funding for most long-term care facilities.
The three disciplined healthcare providers were categorized by county, not by specific facility. However, one of the disciplined healthcare providers was disciplined in Pierce County, the same county that contains the city of University Place, the location of Arcadia Healthcare.
That professional, Susan Wanjiru Mbuchi, was charged by the Washington State Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair Shah, MD, MPH, for “unprofessional conduct” resulting in her license being suspended and being placed on the Department of Social and Health Services’ long-term care abuse and neglect registry which prohibits her from being employed in any position where she may have unsupervised access to “vulnerable adults.”
Another healthcare professional placed on the long-term care abuse and neglect registry is Rosalyn Pandiangan. According to the press release, the Park County nursing assistant’s license was also suspended in May 2021 by Dr. Shah, though the reason for the suspension was not listed in the release.
The final healthcare professional whose license was suspended was Rolando D. Tantoco, a licensed practical nurse. Tantoco’s license was suspended by the Nursing Commission for unprofessional conduct. Unlike the previous healthcare professionals, the King County nurse’s alleged conduct is laid out and explained by the press release.
According to the press release, Tantoco failed to give immediate medical attention to a patient in the adult family home he was employed at after the patient sustained a rib fracture. The release goes on to explain that this rib fracture could have caused a pneumothorax, also known as a collapsed lung, which would have required hospitalization.
For his alleged lack of action, The Department of Social and Health Services issued a final finding that Tantoco had been neglectful of a vulnerable adult. As part of these findings, Tantoco can no longer be employed in the care of vulnerable adults.