We have previously discussed how both federal and state agencies have a hand in regulating nursing homes where those nursing homes at least in part accept federal money, typically through Medicare of Medicaid. Often these regulatory and enforcement duties will overlap, and authorities on the federal and state levels work together through information sharing to weed out abuse and neglect, and bring nursing home facilities under tight scrutiny to ensure they operate in compliance with laws, rules and regulations, and that patient residents receive the proper care and home environment they need and deserve. Another example of the crossover between federal and state authorities occurred in Kansas, where a nursing home was fined for incidents of neglect and abuse of patient residents. This unfortunate case also served as an example of the importance of unannounced surprise inspections of facilities to properly assess them to ensure they operate appropriately even when no one is watching.
Elder Abuse Allegations
In a very saddening turn of events, a nursing home in Andover, Kansas was recently exposed for allegations based on neglect and abuse residents. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services notified the nursing home of the allegations after a department inspector interviewed more than a third of the patient residents there. The inspector conducted these interviews on a surprise visit to the facility, which is typically how agencies conduct reviews of nursing homes (Illinois is no different). This also came after a report had been made to local police about abuse, as the police report spurred the state agency to act on this particular facility.
The state inspector reported that at least two patient residents were abused both physically and verbally, and that at least four staff members participated in at least one instance of abuse. Abuse also occurred between resident patients, adding to the danger. Part of the allegations include charges of the facility failing to investigate these issues as well as failing to report them to the state. The allegations were centralized in a report spanning 150 pages and also laid out a plan to fix things. So far a registered nurse and two nurse’s aides have been terminated, while another aide left the facility in the middle of the investigation.
Federal authorities, specifically from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, fined the nursing home $8,200 per day between March 26th and April 13th, totaling $155,800 in that span, according to news reports. Subsequent finds of $1,000 per day were to be assessed until the facility made the appropriate changes to be compliant with the rules again – it was given a deadline of six months in order to accomplish this, and the state will continue to make additional visits and inspections to ensure the facility is on the path to compliance. If it does not, then it will lose its eligibility to receive Medicare payments, which are of course federal dollars. Because it currently accepts Medicare, the facility is subject to federal oversight and enforcement.
The Andover case is another unfortunate and sad example of abuse allegedly committed by nursing home staff, and the apparent or alleged failure of the facility to do anything about it. Without facilities being honest, it makes it that much tougher for state and federal agencies to enforce appropriate standards of operation and care of patient residents. This case also shows just how costly it can be monetarily, as facilities in violation often must pay hefty fines and can risk losing an entire source of revenue where programs like Medicare cancel its relationship with a facility over failure to comply with rules and standards.
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