nursing home

Ten Michigan Nursing Homes On Federal 'Serious Quality Issue' List

It's 9 o'clock. Do you know where grandma is? 

June 04, 2019 - 11:51 am

(WWJ) A bipartisan pair of United States senators dropped a bombshell on everyone caring for aging family members when they suddenly released a previously unknown list of more than 400 nursing homes the feds consider to have serious quality issues.

Ten Michigan facilities are on the list of 400.

Michigan's targeted nursing homes include: Metron of Belding; Clarkston Specialty Healthcare Center; Laurels Of Coldwater; Schoolcraft Medical Care Facility; Medilodge Of Sterling Heights; Medilodge Of Southfield; Samaritas Senior Living Saginaw; Medilodge Of Midland; Cambridge East Healthcare Center. All of these are listed as "candidates" for SFF, which means they have not met the proper guidelines for either standard of care or patient safety, though they're not yet part of the special monitoring program. 

Medilodge Of Livingston is actively on the list. 

Unknown is how long the local facilities have been on the list, or how exactly they got there. 

Without addressing any details, a Clarkston Specialty Healthcare Center spokeswoman said they are reviewing the list. "We have worked diligently at Clarkston to continue to improve quality of care and quality of life for our residents.  We want to thank our staff for focusing on the care they provide and doing so in a manner that is consistent with state and federal requirements."

What we do know is Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, both of Pennsylvania, sought -- and then released -- the list from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In a release, Toomey and Casey called it a secret document, and they apparently believed it needed to see the light of day.

“While the vast majority of nursing homes provide high-quality care, there are some that are consistently failing to meet objective standards of adequacy,” Toomey, a Republican, said in a statement. “To date, CMS has arbitrarily excluded from public disclosure a subset of these underperforming nursing homes. Moving forward, I hope CMS will give the public this particular list, as well as all relevant information about nursing home quality.” 

In general, what does it mean when a nursing home is on the special focus facility list?

Per federal information, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services visit nursing homes on a regular basis to determine if they're providing the quality of care that Medicare and Medicaid requires. Inspection teams identify any deficiencies in the quality of care or level of safety that is provided. The facility has a certain time frame to fix the issues.

And they do -- mostly. Federal statistics say that most nursing homes "correct their problems within a reasonable period of time." However, some do not. Going on the list and staying there risks the loss of federal funding, and eventual closure.  

They go on the SFF list if they have:

• More problems than other nursing homes -- about twice the average number of deficiencies. 

• More serious problems than most other nursing homes -- including harm or injury experienced by residents.  

• A pattern of serious problems that has persisted over a long period of time -- as measured over the three years before the date the nursing home was first put on the SFF list).

Once a place is added to the list, federal inspectors visit the facility twice as frequently as other nursing homes, about twice per year, with the goal of earning back their status as safe and pleasant environments. The expectation is they'll get back on track in 18-24 months.

If not, they could be terminated from Medicare funding, which would force them to close. 

"The longer the problems persist, the more stringent we are in the enforcement actions that will be taken. Examples of such enforcement actions are civil monetary penalties (“fines”) or termination from Medicare and Medicaid," government guidelines say, adding "The good news is that about 50% of the nursing homes in the SFF program significantly improve their quality of care within 24-30 months after being selected for the SFF initiative, while about 16% tend to be terminated from Medicare and Medicaid."

Federal guidelines suggest that if you have a loved one in an SFF facility, you should visit the nursing home, talk to staff, residents, and other families.

  • You may request to see the results from the last inspection, noting that it should be in a place that is easily accessible.
  • Use the website Nursing Home Compare to see what areas may be problematic.
  • Ask the nursing home staff what they are doing to improve the quality of care for residents.
  • Call your local State Ombudsman, Administration on Aging, and local groups to find out more about the nursing home.
  • If you or a loved one reside in a SFF nursing home, "know that this home is being closely monitored -- it is inspected twice as often as other nursing homes."  

Checking the Nursing Home Compare site is essential when you're looking at options, many said. “We note that facilities that are candidates for the SFF program will typically have a very low star rating,” CMS administrator Seema Verma wrote in Skilled Nursing News. “So, consumers and other stakeholders are alerted to the quality of care issues in these facilities by viewing their star rating and survey results on the Nursing Home Compare website.”