Carthage nursing home included on federal list of troubled facilities

Briarcliff Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation is one of 400 nursing homes nationwide to be included on a list of troubled nursing homes.

A Carthage nursing was found to have put one of its patients in immediate jeopardy last year, one of several issues identified that put it on a list of facilities with a “persistant record of poor care” as of April.

Briarcliff Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation was one of 400 facilities included in a list of the most recent Special Focus Facilities and candidates for the SFF program included in a U.S. Senate report issued by Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-PA, in June. The SFF program works with nursing homes to improve conditions and patient care.

Briarcliff was listed among the SFF candidates.

In a statement from Briarcliff’s corporate owner, the facility said it has been proud of the quality care it has given to area residents over the years.

“Although we may strongly disagree with certain recent allegations of regulatory non-compliance made by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, we nevertheless take such allegations seriously and have promptly addressed them to the satisfaction of the HHSC,” John Paul Taylor, COO of StoneGate Senior Living, said. “Our facility is in regulatory compliance at present, and while it may be listed as a “candidate” for Special Focus Facility designation, that is not the case at this time. We will continue to strive to provide the finest health care to our residents and their families and we thank the community for its support.”

Inspections and Complaints

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides ratings, inspection reports and other details about Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home providers at medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.

Each facility is rated from a low of one star to a high of five stars based on three critical areas: health inspection results, quality measures and staffing levels. An overall rating is also provided.

Briarcliff has been given one star out of five overall, putting it in the “Much Below Average” category.

The facility’s most recent health inspections show Briarcliff has had a total of 16 health citations (compared to an average of 7.3 in Texas and 7.9 in the U.S.). In the past three years, the facility had five complaints that resulted in a citation and four facility-reported issues result in a citation.

A December 2018 inspect report detailed one incident where a patient was put in immediate danger when he experienced low blood sugar, was not administered glucose gel and did not eat breakfast. A registered nurse was found to have given him a regularly-scheduled long-acting insulin medication without checking his blood sugar or consulting a physician.

That resident, the report notes, required emergency intervention and hospitalization.

“The facility did not complete daily glucometer control checks per their policy and did not document all blood sugar readings for Resident #1,” the report said.

The “immediate jeopardy” label was removed from the facility on Dec. 8, but the inspection report notes Briarcliff remained out of compliance because it needed to complete in-service training and evaluate the effectiveness of corrective measures.

“This failure could place residents who receive insulin at risk of having critically low blood sugar levels resulting in harm or death,” the report said.

Another report, dated Nov. 14, 2018, says Briarcliff staff failed to consult a physician for a significant change in physical status and need to alter treatment for two residents, including not notifying one resident’s physician when she was found unresponsive. CPR was initiated on the resident and she was sent to the hospital. She was pronounced dead there. Another resident’s physician was not alerted when the patient had a blood sugar issue.

The facility was issued a federal fine in July 2017, records show.

Carthage Healthcare Center and Panola County Nursing and Rehab were also given a one star overall, but neither facility was included on the SFF candidate list.

Federal Scrutiny

Casey and Toomey’s report details the Special Focus Facility program and note that only a fraction of U.S. nursing homes are included for the program, which seeks to address problems within those facilities. The program is limited to a maximum of 88 facilities because of budgetary issues.

“Despite being indistinguishable from participants in terms of their qualifications for enhanced oversight, candidates are not publicly disclosed,” the report notes. “As a result, individuals and families making decisions about nursing home care for themselves or for a loved one are unlikely to be aware of these candidates.”

Both senators told the Associated Press they wanted the public to have a complete picture of nursing homes they were considering for themselves or family members.

“We’ve got to make sure any family member or any potential resident of a nursing home can get this information, not only ahead of time but on an ongoing basis,” Casey said.

“When a family makes the hard decision to seek nursing home services for a loved one, they deserve to know if a facility under consideration suffers from systemic shortcomings,” Toomey said.

Reporter

Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.