Supervisors focus on PVI issues

T he bad news continues to pile up for the Pleasant Valley Infirmary, and two local supervisors find themselves dealing with the issues almost daily as part of the Washington County Board of Supervisors’ Health Committee.

At the beginning of the week, the 122-bed nursing home found itself unable to take on new Medicare and Medicaid patients – a significant issue for PVI – and was also visited by the state Health Department’s Inspector General staff regarding a patient-care issue.

Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks and Hampton’s Dave O’Brien said that PVI Administrator Jim DeLuca has sent a letter to the Department of Health asking that the sanctions against the facility – which included issues that rose to the most serious level, “immediate jeopardy” – be lifted so it could take those patients again.

“I know he has sent the letter. We are waiting to hear back,” said O’Brien, who is also on a smaller committee that is negotiating the sale of PVI and the county’s other health care related departments.

Both O’Brien and Hicks were in the majority when the board voted 10-6 to sell the facilities on Feb. 29. The following day, DeLuca was informed PVI had been designated a “Special Focus Facility” and would have to undergo additional state inspections.

Those inspections lasted nine days and found a variety of issues, including questions about patient care and Medicaid and Medicare billing issues.

O’Brien said he is concerned about rumors regarding the facility and about news reports, some of which he said are inaccurate.

“PVI is not being investigated for Medicare or Medicaid fraud,” O’Brien said, referring to news reports last week. What happened, O’Brien said, was that the Health Department’s Inspector General’s office did visit the facility, but it was for an allegation about lack of patient care, not about financial issues.  “Any time they get a report like that, they have to come down and check it out,” said O’Brien, who said he does not have any additional information regarding that incident. “It was a misunderstanding about why the IG’s Office was there.”

The Board of Supervisors took the unusual step of issuing a press release late last week, expressing support for the facility and its staff.

“Obviously, we’re going through a major transitions situation, and the state is getting very aggressive,” Hicks said. “We are trying to be proactive about this. These are not things we can put on the back burner. We have hired a consulting firm to assess the situation, and we are bringing in a woman who is an expert on turning facilities around.” The county is also paying a consulting company to survey employees and deal with staff issues.

County board members including Hicks and O’Brien visited PVI last week and spoke to patients and staff.

“We talked to the resident council, and they told us they were well taken care of,” O’Brien said. “We are committed to working for the No. 1 benefit for the residents and the facilities.”

Like Hicks, O’Brien said he thinks the state is taking a harder look at PVI, because of the on-going issues.

“When they came in August, it was fine,” O’Brien said. “I think they are taking a more critical eye now. There has been a lot of progress on some issues, and other issues are being corrected. A lot of this is policies and procedures and making sure you have the right people in the right places.”

Nursing supervisor Karen Roberts, who lives in Granville, recently resigned her position. In a media interview, she was very critical of the staff and administration at the facility.

In addition to the 122 skilled-nursing beds, PVI also includes a 33-bed adult home and an adult day care health program for 24 people.

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