An Iowa nursing home that closed last month following an emergency court ruling that residents were at risk has been added to a list of the nation’s worst care facilities.
The 125-bed Touchstone Healthcare community in Sioux City was added July 27 to the list of Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers of care facilities eligible for designation as a specialty facility list. Touchstone’s addition to the list came six days after the house closed and the last of its residents left.
Months before the shutdown, four different Touchstone vendors had sued the company for allegedly failing to pay more than half a million dollars in patient care management and service fees.
In March, the Iowa Capital Dispatch contacted the state agency that oversees nursing homes, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, after a reporter noticed the lawsuits by sellers. The Capital Dispatch asked DIA if it was watching over the house and if the owners had notified DIA of an inability to meet the residents’ needs.
In response, the DIA said it had recently visited the home to investigate a complaint, cited the home for 10 shortcomings, and returned to the facility for the usual visit to ensure the issues had been corrected.
Three months later, on July 1, the owners of the house contacted DIA to say that they could not make the payroll which was due and due on the same day. Ten days later, the DIA filed court documents seeking an emergency court order appointing a receiver. A judge issued the order the same day after finding conditions at the home posed “imminent danger to residents”.
Since January 2019, Touchstone has been cited for at least 116 regulatory violations and subject to $195,000 in federal fines.
It had been on the list of specialist facilities for four years before dropping the previous list this year, then being reinstated after it was closed.
Other Iowa Homes Added to List
Solon Nursing Care and Dunlap Specialty Care are also added to the list of Iowa homes eligible for specialty facility designation. Since January 2021, the Solon house has faced $154,823 in fines, while the Dunlap house has faced $300,000 in fines.
The list of specialist facilities is updated quarterly by CMS and includes houses that CMS considers to have “a history of serious quality issues”.
Nationally, there are 88 nursing facilities on the list, with one or two slots filled by each state. These homes are enrolled in a special program designed to stimulate improvements in the quality of their care through increased regulatory oversight.
Because the number of specialty facilities is capped, new facilities — even those with the lowest quality ratings from CMS — cannot be designated as specialty facilities until other homes in the same state register. don’t improve and don’t graduate. program.
This is a process that can take four years or more. As a result, several homes in each state are considered eligible for specialty facility status due to ongoing quality of care issues, but they are not eligible for actual enrollment in the specialty facility program.
The two Iowa homes currently enrolled in the Special-Focus Facilities program are owned by the same Iowa-based company, QHC Facilities, which is now bankrupt. They are QHC Villa Fort Dodge, which has been with the program for 10 months; and QHC Winterset North, which has been with the program for 19 months. According to CMS, the Fort Dodge home has recently shown some improvement in care, while the Winterset home has not.
The owner of both homes is actively pursuing the sale of the chain, which consists of eight nursing homes and two assisted living facilities that provide care for up to 700 Iowans.
In addition to the three Iowa homes recently deemed eligible for the listing, seven other Iowa care facilities continue to be listed as “candidates” for the special designation due to quality of care issues: Arbor Court in Mount Pleasant, who has been a candidate for seven months; Aspire de Primghar, candidate for 11 months; Big Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation in Polk City, candidate for seven months; Genesis Senior Living in Des Moines, who has been a candidate for three months; The Ivy in Davenport, candidate for 18 months; Oakland Manor, candidate for two months; QHC Mitchellville, who has been a candidate for 27 months.
Typically, all homes deemed eligible for special home designation have about twice the average number of infractions cited by state inspectors; they have more serious problems than most other care homes, including harm or injury to residents, and they have established a pattern of serious problems that has persisted for a long time.