alert Tax Payment Notice:
All Real Estate tax, Personal Property tax, and Stormwater Utility fees are now due June 24, 2022
Penalty and Interest of Zero Percent (0%) for all payments received on or before August 31, 2022.
close alert
Prince George
County, VA

Bedsores, burns and a maggot: 5 Va. nursing homes on federal list of persistent underperformers


Two residents at Battlefield Park Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Petersburg, had scalding hot coffee spilled on them, burning their skin. Another resident was left to sit in soiled sheets, and others suffered from bedsores.

A resident of Ashland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had bloodstains on their sheets and staff once failed to offer pain treatment to a resident for two days, according to the latest investigative reports published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

These and two other Virginia nursing homes were among 435 facilities in the United States with enough persistent problems for the federal government to designate them as Special Focus Facilities in need of corrective action. The statuses were not released publicly until two U.S. senators published the names of the facilities last week. 

CMS has only publicly labeled 88 nursing homes across the country — one in Virginia — as Special Focus Facilities, which receive additional inspections and must improve within two years or risk losing funding from Medicare. The department doesn’t have enough resources to inspect the others with the same level of scrutiny.

The additional 435 nursing homes designated as candidates for the program do not receive the same reviews or public awareness, in spite of having similar track records, according to a report released by Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators Tuesday.

“Through the release of the ... list and this report, which details preliminary findings from surveys and public information about these candidate facilities, the senators aim to provide Americans and their families with the transparency and information they deserve when choosing a home in which to entrust the care of a loved one,” read the report, released by Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican.

CMS maintains a public database that uses a five-star rating system to help consumers understand how any nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid payments is performing. Nursing homes on the focus list receive a warning sign — a yellow triangle with an exclamation point — instead of a star.

Battlefield Park Healthcare Center in Petersburg received a one-star rating. It had received 31 health citations in its most recent report — many nursing homes have half a dozen or so deficiencies — and in March 2018, CMS fined the facility $397,921, according to the Medicare website.

Ashland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, also rated one-star, had 21 health citations in its most recent inspection, and 32 complaints had resulted in citations over the past three years. It was fined $79,142 in January 2018.

Woodmont Center in Fredericksburg, another nursing home labeled a candidate for the CMS correction program, was cited for failing to administer medication properly and failing to report abuse allegations in a timely manner. It had 23 health citations in its most recent report, and 25 complaints over the past three years resulted in citations. It was fined $61,274 in December 2017, but Virginia Health Information, a health care consumer transparency organization, reported that the nursing home still brought in $1.4 million in revenue in 2017.

“Our facility is rated a four-star for quality and a two-star for staffing. Our customer satisfaction score is 3.7 stars. Please note that it takes three years for past surveys to be removed from the calculations, so the survey data is not always an accurate reflection of the care provided,” said Lori Mayer, spokeswoman for Woodmont Center, in an email. “With that said, we are committed to providing high-quality care to our patients and residents and are always striving to improve quality and performance at the center.”

Augusta Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, another one-star facility, was the final candidate from Virginia and had five health citations in its latest inspection, though 29 complaints had resulted in citations over the past three years. CMS fined the facility $433,329 in May 2017. 

One additional Virginia nursing home, Envoy of Westover Hills in Richmond, has been on the public focus list for 10 months, meaning it could be about a year away from losing Medicare payments. Its latest inspection described one resident’s bedsore that was allowed to get so bad that there was a maggot inside it. Other residents complained of being cold without blankets, a lack of clean linens, failures to dress wounds regularly and a litany of other complaints.

Medicare.gov says Envoy of Westover Hills had 53 health citations in its most recent report and 43 complaints resulting in citations over the past three years.

Administrators of each of the nursing homes except for Woodmont Center did not return calls for comment.

Making the nursing homes’ records public is an important step, but it just scratches the surface of the problems that exist, said Sam Kukich, a Poquoson resident who launched a grass-roots advocacy nonprofit last year after seeing her mother-in-law neglected and mistreated at a nursing home in Newport News that received a two-star rating from CMS. 

Kukich was fed up after many attempts to advocate for her mother-in-law on the staff, facility and state levels were met with indifference and sometimes defiance.

She moved her mother-in-law to another facility where she is treated well and her condition has improved, but Kukich decided she couldn’t forget about all the people in nursing homes who continue to be neglected and mistreated.

Kukich started Dignity for the Aged, an organization that has amassed nearly 500 members in several states and organizes groups to visit people in nursing homes, advocates for legislation to improve staffing levels and safety at nursing homes in the state, and offers resources to people experiencing problems with nursing home care.

“The problem is people don’t know how to report this,” Kukich said. “You’re so consumed with your loved one.”

Short of improving the issues in nursing homes around the state, having the information to know how they are performing publicly available is essential for families hoping to ensure their loved ones’ safety, Kukich said.

When she was first looking for a place for her mother-in-law, Kukich wanted to find a place nearby that seemed nice. She didn’t realize she should check a facility’s record of patient care.

Now, she hopes her nonprofit will educate and aid people who are in the same situation she faced.

“Of course you’re not going to put your loved one in a place that you think is bad,” Kukich said. “You think they’re going to be cared for — the brochure says this and they tell you that. ... They all had buttons on their collars that said, ‘We pray.’ ... That was a just a marketing tool.”

bbalch@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6601
Twitter: @bridgetbalch