Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Profiles in Conservatism

Here's a little background on one of Bubble Boy's inaugural guests.

Martha Bell founded and operated the Ronald Reagan Atrium I Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Robinson, PA, outside Pittsburgh. She had been a contibutor to candidates and political parties since 2000, mostly Republicans and the GOP.

In 2005, Bell contributed $1,200 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. She attended George Bush's inaugural in January. She received the Alzheimer's Association's Genesis Award and was named a 2004 Pennsylvania Businesswoman of the Year by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The honor was because of her work with Alzheimer's patients, committee spokesman Ed Patra said.

One of those patients was Mabel Taylor.

On Oct. 26, 2001, Ms. Taylor wandered through a door propped open so employees could go outside to smoke. She was locked in a courtyard outside the building in 40-degree weather, where she died, according to a 38-page police affidavit.

Three state inspections found Atrium was not in compliance with state and federal regulations in January 2001. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decided Atrium could not admit new Medicare or Medicaid patients. That is, until Sen. Rick Santorum, at Bell's urging, requested a fourth inspection of the facility. At the fourth inspection, Arium was finally in compliance with regulations, so Medicare and Medicaid funding were not withheld.

A July 2003 inspecion report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health found that patients at the nursing home wandered around unsupervised. The health department also found evidence of patients falling down and losing weight.

In October 2003, Bell was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Ms. Bell's death. Prosecutors say that Bell told workers to move Ms. Taylor's body from the courtyard where she was found to her bed. Her family was told that she died of natural causes.

In addition to involuntary manslaughter charges, Bell was charged with neglect of a care-dependent person, reckless endangerment, conspiracy, health care fraud, making false statements and theft of payroll money.

The state closed the nursing home in January 2004.

In August, Bell was convicted in federal court of one count of health care fraud and eight counts of making false statements. Her sentencing was scheduled for Friday, but delayed until December 2. Her manslaughter trial in the death of Ms. Taylor was scheduled to begin this month but has been delayed while her attorneys appeal a denial of their motion to dismiss.

Patra, of the Republican Congressional Committee, said the committee was unaware of the charges when they honored her in March, which makes you wonder if the research into their awards goes beyond "did her check clear?"

For all conservatives' bluster about earning things, it seems that either they don't apply that standard to themselves or they're convinced that they earned everything they have, all their money, all their success, all their accolades. In this instance, a woman who just might go to federal prison for the way she did her job was named a businesswoman of the year, apparently only because she gave money to the body that hands out the awards. Similarly, George Bush took the presidential oath of office in January 2001, only because he sued to have counting of votes stopped; and was admitted to Harvard and Yale, only because of his last name.

If it looks like success, it must be success. That, of course, isn't a far cry from the defining principle of the Bush administration: It only has to look like results. And that might explain who the 35 percent are who still approve of how Bush is doing his job.

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