A federal penalty denying Medicare and Medicaid payments to a Buffalo nursing home that will soon close was made public this week.
Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was denied payments for an 18-day period starting Sept. 15, based on violations detailed in a state Health Department inspection report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid posted on its website Wednesday.
The centers did not reveal the value of the payments withheld, and a spokeswoman could not provide that information or an explanation for the penalty on Thursday.
Earlier this month, the Health Department imposed a $10,000 fine on Emerald South after investigating the June 4th death of William Strasner. The 87-year-old resident in the facility's dementia unit fell to his death when he had attempted to escape out a window from his third-floor room using a makeshift rope.
The May 8th state inspection report that led to the federal penalty cited a number of violations:
- Unclean conditions that included strong urine and feces odors, a broken toilet in a resident's room, soiled privacy curtains and safety floor mats, dirty linen in the rooms of residents, a community shower with foul odors and a discarded pair of soiled gloves.
- Failure to make timely reports of suspected abuse, neglect or theft to authorities. Cited in that violation was an incident involving a male resident who entered a female resident's room and made sexually inappropriate comments while exposing himself. The facility's director of nursing told a state inspector there was a delay of several days in reporting the incident to the Health Department because the facility's phone lines were not working.
- Failing to properly bandage a bedsore wound, and improper dispensing of prescription medication that resulted in a resident receiving the incorrect dose of a sleep aid for seven days.
The Health Department appointed a receiver for Emerald South and its companion home, Emerald North, both on Delaware Avenue, in late October. Since then, the receiver announced it will be closing 122-bed Emerald South. The target date for closure is Jan. 31.
Grand Healthcare System of New York City, the receiver, is not responsible for penalties arising from violations that occurred before it became receiver, said Jay Lawrence, a company spokesman.
The federal government designated Emerald South a "special focus facility" because of unsafe conditions shortly after Strasner fell to his death. State inspectors later determined that the facility failed to take sufficient steps to protect Strasner.
The nursing home's director of maintenance told inspectors that he had warned the nursing home administrator and nursing staff leaders that Strasner had repeatedly removed screws that prevented the window in his room from opening more than 6 inches, according to the Health Department investigation. The maintenance staff installed bolts on Strasner's window 10 times after his arrival, but they could not find out how Strasner was removing them.
Emerald South was the focus of a Buffalo News story on Oct. 21 that detailed how 16 of the 47 nursing homes in Erie and Niagara counties had been purchased in the past 11 years by out-of-town investors. Most of those homes are among the worst-rated in the region. In its latest rating, the federal government called Emerald South a two-star nursing home, or "below average."
Story topics: Nursing Homes