Cincinnati, OH Nursing Home Fire, Jan 1972
ONE FLOOR MADE OF CINDER BLOCKS.
'IT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN USED AS A NURSING HOME'
Cincinnati (AP) -- A member of a White House commission late Wednesday described safety conditions as "atrocious" at a nursing home here where nine died.
Howard Tipton, executive director of President Nixon's National Fire Prevention and Control Commission charged that the one floor, converted residence made of cinder blocks "should never have been used as a nursing home."
Robert Bland, commission chairman, added that he felt the Lincoln Heights and Evendale fire departments did a creditable job fighting the fire.
Bland said President Nixon formed the commission to look into the rising number of multiple deaths in nursing home fires throughout the country. Both men flew back to Washington following their inspection.
Fire officials noted that the Green Nursing Home did not have an automatic sprinkler system, nor had any fire drills been conducted by the operators.
"I would not attempt to pinpoint the cause of the fire, because I would not want to encroach on the responsibility of the Ohio State Fire Marshal," said
Bland, adding that "the fire started around the furnace in the basement."
Rev. Prentice Brown, president of the Cincinnati Academy of Nursing Homes, and Gary Shepherd,
Columbus, director of the Ohio Nursing Home Association, charged that the Lincoln Heights Fire Department took 35 minutes to respond less than a mile to the early morning fire.
Both said lives probably would have been lost, but some might have been saved. James Brown, Lincoln Heights Safety Director, said the department arrived in 18 minutes. He said they were delayed by an engine breakdown and hampered by water pressure problems with the equipment.
"If Evendale hadn't come, the whole neighborhood would have burned up," said Mrs. Mary Brooks, a neighbor who turned in the first alarm.
Sam Fraley, chief of the Ohio Nursing Home Board of Examiners said the home's license had been renewed Jan. 12, and that the State Fire Marshal's office reported no violations on its inspection April 26, 1971.
Richard Lighner, executive assistant to the State Welfare Director, however, said the Green Nursing Home hailed "to meet standards for Medicaid and Medicare." He called it an "intermediate aid facility."
Fred Breyer, Hamilton County Welfare Director, explained that an "intermediate aid home" generally contains ambulatory patients who did not require skilled nursing care.
The ages of the victims were 68-94 and two were blind. A mass, nondenominational service will be held for the victims Friday in Lincoln Heights.
Altogether, four people escaped the fire.
They included MRS. MARY GREEN, 70, and her nephew SAMUEL MAYS, 16, who lived in a rear annex. MRS. GREEN was under a psysician's care at the home of a friend and unavailable for comment.
The night nurse, MRS. CLEO GABLE, 50, was led to safety by a Lincoln Heights policeman and was treated for minor burns. MRS. CLEO HANKERSON, 68, was helped out by another officer and was hospitalized.
The charred bodies of the nine victims were found in their beds. Firemen said they were unable to enter the building because of the heat.
"I'm convinced," Bland said, "that we owe our elderly people nursing homes which they have a reasonable chance to escape from.
"This home didn't give these women that chance."
The dead were listed as:
MRS. PEARL WHITE.
MRS. SALLY JONES.
MRS. EULA OGLETREE.
MRS. MARY EDMONDACE.
MRS. FRANCES SMITH.
MRS. MATTIE VANSICKEL.
MRS. MINNIE DAVIS.
MRS. ANNA GRAHAM.
MRS. ATTIE OWENS.
The home, licensed to care for 11 patients since 1966, received subsidies for care of welfare patients.
Piqua Daily Call Ohio 1972-01-27