County pays first of nursing home fines

W ashington County has agreed to pay the first of at least two significant fines that have or will be levied against the county because of issues with the Pleasant Valley nursing home.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted last Friday to pay the state Health Department $44,000 for issues uncovered by state inspectors in 2011 but those fines are expected to be just the beginning.

The county will also have to pay penalties for a number of additional issues revealed in a 2012 audit but the amount of those fees is still unknown.

The county was ordered to pay $52,000 for issues revealed in 2011 and had already paid $8,000 before Friday’s decision to pay the remainder.

The infractions found last year, however, were more serious and could prove to be more costly.

The state issued four “immediate jeopardy” declarations—the most serious charge the state can levy—in 2012 because of incidents related to cleanliness, substandard professional standards and oversight, and perhaps the most serious, errors in the distribution of prescribed medications.

In response, the state placed sanctions on Pleasant Valley that prohibited officials from billing Medicare and Medicaid patients.

County officials replaced several leadership positions at the nursing home and in August received a clean slate from the state.

But the fallout from last year’s inspections is unclear. More fines are coming, but how much remains to be seen. Officials have speculated they could be substantially higher.

The county meanwhile continues to make progress on selling Pleasant Valley to Centers for Specialty Care, which has purchased several public nursing homes over the past few years.

Last year, the company bid $2.4 million for the 122-bed facility and the county Board of Supervisors approved the sale late last year. The two sides have been working toward finalizing the sale and officials have said privatization could take place later this year.

Budget Officer Brian Campbell has repeatedly said the nursing home is losing millions of dollars for the county each year.

The county also agreed to sell its Public Health Department to HCR Home Care, which will pay for $550,000 for the county’s Certified Home Health Aide, Hospice and Long-Term Care component.

Officials expect HCR to formally take over the divisions by March.

 

 

 

 

 

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