SNF director charged with cover-up

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    COURT: The administrator of a Pedley nursing home was convicted of failing to report an abuse case.



    RIVERSIDE - A judge chose community service rather than jail time Friday for the head of a Pedley skilled-nursing facility, who was the first California administrator convicted of failing to report an assault on a patient.

    Deborah Ann Davis, 37, was given six months in jail, but Superior Court Judge Robert McIntyre suspended the sentence and instead ordered the Corona woman to perform 500 hours of community service.

    Davis, head of the Vista Pacifica Center, was also placed on three years' formal probation, which will be reduced to less-restrictive summary probation once she has completed the community service.

    After rejecting a defense request for a new trial, McIntyre appeared to be ready to sentence Davis to some jail time, saying the case needed to provide a deterrent for others. A sentencing recommendation of 80 hours of community service was not harsh enough, McIntyre said.

    "She deliberately tried to bypass the law," McIntyre said. "She attempted to circumvent the law."

    Both defense attorneys and Deputy Attorney General Brian Frankel of San Diego, who prosecuted the case, said Davis' conviction has already had an impact on the industry and the way administrators do their job.

    "Just the mere conviction will have a significant impact," Frankel said just before McIntyre recessed the sentencing hearing. "It has created a deterrent effect that is already in full swing."

    McIntyre returned a short time later and sentenced Davis, saying she and other administrators have a very difficult job that, in most cases, is done well.

    Davis was convicted in April of the misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected abuse by a then employee against a patient at Vista Pacifica, a long-term psychiatric facility north of Riverside.

    In April 2000, the employee, Gregory McMillian of Riverside, choked a patient during an altercation within the facility. Davis investigated the abuse internally and fired McMillian, but she did not report the incident to authorities, as required.

    A former employee reported the incident to the Department of Health Services. McMillian later pleaded guilty to abuse of a dependent adult and was sentenced to 20 days in custody.

    Davis became the first administrator in California convicted of the crime when McIntyre found her guilty after the non-jury trial. After the verdict, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued a statement saying that the prosecution "sends a clear massage" and that those required by law "must take seriously their responsibility and obligation to report elder and dependent adult abuse."

    Davis did not comment during the sentencing hearing but said in a sentencing report that she used "professional judgment" and followed the advice of the psychologist and the psychiatrist who work at the facility.

    Frankel said he was satisfied with the sentence because he was not pushing for jail time. He said there has already been an increase in the number of abuse reports from health-care administrators, which he believes is in response to the case.

    "The important thing is the safety of the patients," he said after the hearing. "I think it has already had an impact there."
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