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Half The Time, Nursing Homes Scrutinized On Safety By Medicare Are Still Treacherous

By Kaiser Health News  
   July 07, 2017

While special focus status is one of the federal government’s strictest forms of oversight, nursing homes that were forced to undergo such scrutiny often slide back into providing dangerous care, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of federal health inspection data.

This article first appeared June 08, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.

By Jordan Rau

Cheryl Powers fixes the hair of her mother, Elaine Fisher, at the Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield in Bakersfield, Calif., where Fisher moved after problems at a previous home. She fractured a hip after slipping from a wheelchair. (Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times)

In 2012, Parkview Healthcare Center’s history of safety violations led California regulators to issue an ultimatum reserved for the most dangerous nursing homes.

The state’s public health department designated Parkview, a Bakersfield, Calif., nursing home, a “special focus facility,” requiring it to either fix lapses in care while under increased inspections or be stripped of federal funding by Medicare and Medicaid — a financial deprivation few homes can survive. After 15 months of scrutiny, the regulators deemed Parkview improved and released it from extra oversight.

But a few months later, Elaine Fisher, a 74-year-old who had lost the use of her legs after a stroke, slid out of her wheelchair at Parkview. Afterward, the nursing home promised to place a nonskid pad on her chair but did not, inspectors later found. Twice more, Fisher slipped from her wheelchair, fracturing her hip the final time.

The violation drew a $10,000 penalty for Parkview, one of 10 fines totaling $126,300 incurred by the nursing home since the special focus status was lifted in 2014.

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Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


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