published Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Admissions halt lifted at Bradley County nursing home

By Paul Leach, Correspondent
A Bradley Healthcare Human Resources controller walks through one of the new terminal rooms at the nursing home in Cleveland in this file photo.
A Bradley Healthcare Human Resources controller walks through one of the new terminal rooms at the nursing home in Cleveland in this file photo.
Sean McRae Loftin
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center began accepting new admissions again as of Monday, overcoming a weekslong, state-imposed suspension on new patients.

The facility's board members on Tuesday evening reviewed measures taken by state and federal agencies, as well as the nursing home itself, to remedy violations at the center found during an October survey.

"We appreciate the state of Tennessee helping with yearly inspections that allow us to identify even the smallest areas where improvement is possible," Dr. John S. Stanbery, board chairman, said in a prepared statement.

The Tennessee Department of Health suspended new admissions to the nursing home between Nov. 3 and 20 for violations against administration, social work services and reporting standards, according to a state news release. Auditors found the violations during a complaint investigation and annual survey report done between Oct. 18 and 24 at the Peerless Road facility.

Nursing home Facility Administrator Joseph Newcomb described the violations essentially as paperwork and policy matters. He said none of the violations resulted from harm to a patient.

Despite the lifting of the suspension, the matter still officially is open, Newcomb said. The facility is awaiting final approval of its most recently submitted plan of corrections. However, the state's special monitor assigned to the nursing home left a week ago.

In a full report to the board, Director of Nursing Teresa Valdez described the infractions cited in the state survey, stating that in some cases the solutions involved creating better "paper trails." She also said that a number of policies that long had been in place and previously judged satisfactory by state auditors had been called into question during this survey. Those policies varied from how to separate medicine trays in refrigeration to creating "more formal" behavior management procedures, she said.

For the most part, Valdez said, the solutions simply meant fine-tuning existing policies and procedures so "there would be no question" as to how they were to be followed.

The suspension was announced shortly after the facility had received high marks for its fiscal and physical well-being in an audit conducted by Matheney Stees and Associates of Chattanooga.

Newcomb said the suspension did not apply solely to new patients, and that any Medicare patient who left the facility for off-site medical procedures could not be readmitted. He estimated the center might have lost 10 patients in such a circumstance during the suspension period, but that they would be eligible for readmission now.

Other sanctions included a $3,000, one-time state civil monetary penalty. The facility also will have to pay for the special monitor, but the state has not advised the home of the cost yet, Newcomb said.

The facility also may have to pay a federal penalty of up to $4,050 per day that was levied until corrections were completed. Newcomb said he was not aware if the federal penalty will be applied in this case or, if so, how much it might be.

Tennessee Department of Health officials did not comment on the status of the investigation.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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