Nursing home in compliance

Federal agency rescinds public notice, funding threat

MORRISON – Morrison Community Hospital's nursing home is in the clear after all. 

On Tuesday, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a public notice that it would terminate its agreement with Four Seasons Living Center on Nov. 16 because of life safety issues. That meant no more Medicare or Medicaid funding, the lifeblood of most nursing homes.

The notice had been slated to appear today as a legal advertisement in this newspaper.

On Wednesday, though, the agency rescinded its notice, saying the nursing home had come into compliance.

The day before, hospital CEO Pam Pfister said the nursing home had submitted its plan of correction in July to the state Department of Public Health, which handles inspections on behalf of the federal agency.

She said it appeared the state agency had not followed up on its revisit to Four Seasons "in a timely manner" and appeared to have "mishandled" the paperwork sent in July.

On Wednesday afternoon, Melaney Arnold, the state agency's spokeswoman, confirmed her agency had received a plan of correction but that her agency had to go back twice to the nursing home for changes.

"On Tuesday, we got the last piece of information," Arnold said. "We processed it, and it went to CMS."

The state didn't want to see the Medicare and Medicaid funding terminated, she said.

"This is a service that is needed," Arnold said. "We're not out to get them, but we want them to be compliant. We want to ensure the health and safety of residents."

It's not unusual for inspectors to find deficiencies in a nursing home. In fact, CMS reports that an average of six or seven such issues are found in each survey.

Typically, the problems are resolved before CMS threatens a loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding.

In Four Seasons' case, the reported violations were not uncommon. They dealt with such issues as frequency of meals and infection control procedures.