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HIGH COVID-19 DEATH RATES IN NURSING HOMES LEADS TO CMS ANNOUNCEMENT OF ENHANCED ENFORCEMENT

The Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced new measures to ensure health care facilities are prepared to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.  In a June 1, 2020 memo, CMS reported that on average, states are completing only 54.1% of infection control surveys. To incentivize survey compliance, CMS announced that states which fail to achieve a 100% survey completion rate may receive less funding.

The memo further reported that CMS would improve the use of infection controls. CMS announced penalties will vary depending on the nursing home’s past record. 

Nursing home resident using walker to stand and look out the window.
CMS’ memo also discussed the role of Quality Improvement Organizations in combating COVID-19. Quality Improvement Organizations are experienced, community-based organizations that provide education and training to every nursing home in the country, including targeted technical assistance to specific nursing homes that have experienced an outbreak. For the full text of the memo, see https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-31-all.pdf.

On June 4, 2020, following through on a pledge to provide long-promised transparent data to consumers, CMS updated its Nursing Home Compare database to include individual nursing home data on Covid - 19 outbreaks and death counts.  The database provides Covid-19 case information previously unavailable to the public.  In addition, family members can now access data for individual facilities including results  of all surveys conducted since March 4th, when CMS reoriented its entire inspection strategy to target infection control violations. An interactive map that provides a count of resident infections and deaths is also available. 

The data, collected in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealed that as of June 4th there have been nearly 32,000 deaths and more than 95,000 confirmed cases from the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes. 
As only 88% of the facilities had reported at that point, true numbers are undoubtedly much higher.  The information can be found on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website; https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.

The overhaul to the Nursing Home Compare site marks the first major change to the database since an October 2019 decision to include a warning icon on facilities with a recent history of citations for abuse. About 5% of nursing home entries on the site have since received the icon.

As of June 17, 2020 several area nursing homes have received the lowest possible overall rating on the Nursing Home Compare website of “much below average”. 

They are:

  • Creekview Nursing and Rehab Center
  • Elm Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • Ontario Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare
  • Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
  • Premier Genesee Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation
  • The Shore Winds
  • Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
  • The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehab Center
  • Wesley Gardens

As of the same date, only one nursing home within a 50 mile radius of Rochester received a special designation as a “Special Focus Facility”; New Roc Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  According to the Nursing Home Compare website, “If a nursing home has a history of persistent poor quality of care, as indicated by the findings of state or federal inspection teams, it can be considered a Special Focus Facility. This means that the facility is subjected to more frequent inspections, escalating penalties and potential termination from Medicare and Medicaid.” 

The elder law attorneys at Lacy Katzen LLP can assist you in making important decisions about nursing home placement to achieve your goals of quality care while maximizing available public benefits and implementing asset protection strategies.

If you believe your loved one has been injured or has died due to negligent care and treatment at a long term care facility, the personal injury attorneys at Lacy Katzen may be able to help.  Please contact us for a free consultation.

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