The Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills was fined $80,000 after an investigation by the State of California concluded that conditions at the facility led to the death of a wheelchair-bound patient with dementia who fell down a flight of stairs.

The fine was one of three announced by Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state public health officer. The other two nursing homes were the Downey Care Center in Downey, fined $80,000 and Fountain View Subacute and Nursing Center in Los Angeles, which was fined $75,000 for inadequare supervision, which led to a fall resulting in a death. The investigations in each case found that the facilities provided inadequate care resulting in a death.

The Woodland Hills center also failed to “ensure an environment free of accident hazards with adequate supervision, leading to the death of a patient,” the agency said. The incident occurred on Nov. 30, 2010 when a patient wheeled herself to a second-floor exit door to a stairwell, fell from her wheelchair, and broke her neck and back. Surgery was not recommended, and shed died seven days later.

California has the authority to impose fines against nursing facilities it licenses as part of enforcement remedies for poor care. The three institutions received the maximum penalties allowed under law. All nursing facilities in California are required to be in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing health care facilities. Facilities are required to comply with these standards to ensure quality of care. CDPH said its enforcement efforts strive to protect the health and safety of vulnerable individuals living in the state’s approximately 1,300 skilled nursing facilities.

The Fund said it “deeply regrets the incident,” and that since the investigation was completed in December, 2010 it has taken additional measures to ensure the safety of its patients and the quality of care that they receive.

These actions include: hiring an outside safety consultant to independently review the investigation and remedial measures, and extensive audits of its policies and procedures. The company has also conducted additional staff training, and made physical changes to its facility. Those corrective actions and remediation plans have been approved by the CDPH, the Fund said. “We exist to take care of our own and remain committed to executing this mission at a level of excellence,” it said in a prepared statement.

Judy Temes