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Ky. Nursing Home Fights Closure

November 26, 2002

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A health care regulator said Monday that she wouldn’t renew the license of the nursing home whose owner had an affair with Gov. Paul Patton, citing ``gross mismanagement.″

Pamela J. Murphy, inspector general at the state’s Cabinet for Health Services, testified in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that she had not received an application for a new license from Birchtree Healthcare _ and would not approve one.

``It would be malfeasance of office″ to do so, Murphy said. ``In my judgment, we have a case of gross mismanagement.″

The state is trying to revoke Birchtree’s license _ which expires Dec. 31 _ for ``continued and substantial failure″ to meet minimum requirements.

Birchtree owner Tina Conner alleges that state inspectors hounded the nursing home into bankruptcy after she ended a two-year affair with Patton. She alleges it was Patton’s way of retaliating _ a charge under state and federal investigation.

Patton has acknowledged the affair but denied doing anything to aid or damage Conner’s business. Cabinet officials deny that the crackdown on Birchtree was politically motivated.

Two state inspectors, Angela Livingston and Paula Horn, testified they found Birchtree understaffed and its record keeping in shambles when they visited in December, January and April.

The hearing resumes Wednesday. Conner and her administrator planned to have people connected with Birchtree, including residents, testify in the home’s defense.

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