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Facility investigated after death

Elderly resident of Hilltop House was struck, killed while walking in lanes of Berryville Pike

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- An assisted living facility is under investigation after a resident died when she wandered into the path of an oncoming vehicle earlier this week.

The death early Monday morning of 74-year-old Young-Ja Park Kim prompted the Virginia Department of Social Services and Adult Protective Services to investigate Hilltop House, 111 Denny Lane, Winchester, where she lived. Eileen Guertler, director of public affairs for the agency, said Thursday she could not comment on the pending investigation.

Hilltop House administrator Scott Smith was not available for comment Thursday.

A 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup struck Kim Monday at about 1:15 a.m. as she walked in the westbound lanes of Berryville Pike just west of Blossom Drive, according to state police spokesman Sgt. F.L. "Les" Tyler.

The collision occurred a short distance from Hilltop House. Kim died as a result of injuries she sustained in the collision, Tyler said.

A representative of Hilltop House reported the woman's death to Social Services, according to Guertler.

The death of a resident in an assisted living facility also would likely involve the Virginia Department of Adult Protective Services, according to Brent Kennedy, associate director senior of operations for the division of licensing programs in Social Services.

"Anytime we receive a complaint from anyone in the commonwealth then we are going to investigate it if it indeed addresses standards for assisted living facilities," Kennedy said.
"The example ... regarding a death, that would be a very serious situation and we would contact Adult Protective Services to let them know that we've received a complaint and that it more than likely would be a joint investigation."

Kennedy did not give a time frame for how long an investigation could take.

"They take as long as they need to," Kennedy said. "Some inspections can be resolved in one inspection. Some cannot.

"We certainly want to determine as quickly as possible if there is risk to residents in care and we also want to get a plan of correction ... to ensure that that risk is reduce or eliminated and we will work to do that as quickly as we can but we do have to gather all of the facts in an investigation before an allegation is determined to be valid and a violation is noted of the standards of an assisted living facility," Kennedy added.

Social Services workers would begin the investigation by visiting the facility unannounced, Kennedy said.

Investigations can take more than one inspection but normally close within 60 days of receiving the complaint.

The agency generates a violation notice if any are found along with an inspection summary. Reports are made available to the public on the agency's website.

Social Services inspected the facility Jan. 9 after receiving a complaint but found no violations, according to online information. Other inspections, not prompted by complaints, did turn up violations, reports stated.

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