Ohio News Briefs

Report: Ohio lags in nursing home inspections

CLEVELAND (AP) — A newspaper reports that Ohio is among the U.S. states with the worst records for keeping up with nursing home inspections.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland cites records it obtained showing that a key deadline for inspecting nursing homes hasn’t been met since fiscal year 2011. It says Ohio is the fourth-worst state nationally in inspection intervals. Advocates say inspectors offer important checks on the industry, detecting patient care issues.

The agency that provides inspectors is understaffed. The newspaper reported Sunday that Ohio has one inspector for every six nursing homes, while nearby states Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois have one for every four facilities.

The Ohio Department of Health says officials are working hard to improve time intervals and that there has been progress in the last two years.

The state’s 153 inspectors, also known as surveyors, examine Ohio’s 960 nursing homes, investigating more than 2,000 complaints a year. They also review more than 600 assisted-living centers.

Ohio’s average interval between nursing home inspections was 13.8 months last year, an improvement over 14.4 months in 2015.

“If you aren’t getting inspectors in there every year to check on what’s going on, then you have a problem,” said Richard Mollott, executive director of the New York-based Long Term Care Community Coalition.

“It’s a chronic situation,” said Peter Van Runkle, executive director of the Ohio Health Care Association. “The state inspectors are understaffed.”

The newspaper said low pay and high turnover perpetuate the understaffing.

Early voting underway in Ohio’s May primary

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state’s elections chief is reminding Ohio residents that early voting is underway in the state’s spring election.

Secretary of State Jon Husted says absentee voting in May 2 primary and special elections began April 4 and continues through the weekend before Election Day.

The Republican official says voters in 74 of Ohio’s 88 counties may have a local race or issue on the ballot. More than 300 local issues are up for voters’ consideration.

Registered voters can cast absentee ballots by mail or vote in person at early voting centers, where Husted has set uniform hours statewide.

Those preferring to vote on Election Day will find polls open on May 2 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Judge gives tight-lipped ex-treasure hunter another warning

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge is warning an ex-treasure hunter he could face another contempt-of-court charge if he doesn’t reveal the location of 500 missing gold coins.

Judge Algenon Marbley on Friday ordered Tommy Thompson to cooperate by granting power of attorney to allow the government to figure out if a trust in Belize knows the coins’ whereabouts.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Marbley refused Thompson’s request to appoint a civil attorney to help him review records.

Marbley has held Thompson in contempt of court since December 2015 for violating terms of a plea deal by refusing to respond to questions about the coins’ locations.

The coins, valued at $2.5 million to $4 million, were minted from gold taken from the S.S. Central America, which sank in an 1857 hurricane.

Ohio auditor begins 1st school district efficiency review

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Auditor Dave Yost says his office is conducting its first review of a school district’s potential to save money by sharing services.

The Republican auditor said recently that Bellaire Local School District in Belmont County will kick off a series of voluntary shared services feasibility studies around the state.

The reviews were made available under a government efficiency bill passed last year. The legislation also set up a grant fund to cover the costs of the audits.

In conducting the first review, members of the auditor’s Ohio Performance Team will measure possible cost and time savings to the district of collaborating with neighboring districts, including on maintenance and school bus facilities.

The Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, Shadyside and St. Clairsville-Richland school districts will all be considered as potential partners.

Speed limit review: 35 mph sign doesn’t match 50 mph limit

WHITEHOUSE, Ohio (AP) — A village in northwest Ohio says it will look at speed limits on a main street after it was revealed that officers had been ticketing drivers based on a speed sign that sets a limit below the actual limit.

The village council in Whitehouse this past week approved doing a study to find a definitive answer.

The police chief in the village near Toledo has acknowledged the 35 mph sign doesn’t match the 50 mph limit set by state law.

A village official tells The Blade newspaper that they need to know if the street in question goes through an urban district before they can establish a proper speed limit.