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Globe-circling nursing home operator faces up to $50 million in fines

May 30, 1997

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The businesswoman who flew a vintage airplane around the globe to complete the adventure Amelia Earhart never finished is fighting millions of dollars in violations found at one of the nursing homes she owns.

Linda Finch, 46, is scheduled for trial in September. State regulators said they found patients living in life-threatening conditions, with too few nurses and other staff.

Inspectors who visited the Dublin Nursing Center in 1994 said that patients had advanced bed sores and that some had lost large amounts of weight. The home is near Stephenville, about 60 miles from Fort Worth.

Separately, the Texas Department of Human Services has asked the state attorney general’s office to sue Ms. Finch for civil penalties connected to the death of a patient at another one of the four nursing homes she owns.

Ms. Finch said in Friday’s Austin American-Statesman that her homes provide high-quality care so that residents and staff ``really feel like a family when they’re here.″

She said that no life-threatening conditions existed and that she will fight the potential fines, which range from $500,000 to $50 million.

On Wednesday, Ms. Finch finished her 26,000-mile, 2 1/2-month flight around the world in a restored twin-engine Lockheed Electra, the same model Earhart flew. Ms. Finch’s plane, though, was outfitted with modern communications equipment.

She followed the same path as Earhart, who vanished in 1937 over the Pacific on her bid become the first pilot to circumnavigate the globe at its widest point, the equator.

At Ms. Finch’s Pecan Grove Nursing Home at Austin, where 91-year-old Cruz Santa Ana died in February, regulators said staff members failed to provide proper treatment for his severe diabetes and urinary tract infection. No charges have been filed in Ana’s death.

After the violations became public, plans to honor Ms. Finch with a resolution from the Texas House on Monday were postponed.

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