Federal nursing home inspectors are in the field conducting their annual assessments on the safety of facilities, including five in the Williamsburg area.
It’s been about a year since the inspectors last made their rounds and published their findings, which included a litany of falls, harmful bed sores and care worse than national and state averages.
Some of the facilities have faced lawsuits and federal penalties for deficient care in recent years as well, while others met or exceeded national and state averages for their quality of care.
Every year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services releases updated nursing home inspection reports that detail health care deficiencies at nursing homes across the country. The center maintains records for nursing homes inspected between 2016 and 2018.
Five Williamsburg-area facilities — WindsorMeade Williamsburg, Woodhaven Hall at Williamsburg Landing, Convalescent Center at Patriot’s Colony, Consulate Health Care of Williamsburg and Envoy of Williamsburg — were inspected between 2016 and 2018, and 163 health care deficiencies were reported in that period, according to the inspection summaries. Deficient care practices can be anything from incorrectly storing food at a dining hall to causing actual physical, psychological or emotional harm to patients.
Nearly half of those deficiencies occurred at one facility: Envoy of Williamsburg was cited for 73 deficiencies in the period; 30 care problems were noted in the 2018 report.
A compliance official with Envoy of Williamsburg, Scarlett Huang, did not return a request for comment.
Problems at the facility run the gamut, according to the reports, from failures to protect patients and treat them with dignity to failure to provide residents with appropriate means of using a restroom.
Other elder care facilities in Williamsburg have not had similar numbers of penalties or deficiencies.
Based on Medicare scores, Woodhaven Hall at Williamsburg Landing is significantly better than Envoy. The facility has 73 beds in its nursing home, which is part of a Continuing Care Retirement Community. The facility had 15 inspection deficiencies in the past three years, and seven deficiencies in its last inspection in 2018. For example, staff resuscitated a patient despite the patient’s desire not to be resuscitated. Another deficiency was noted when kitchen staff did not keep temperature logs for the coffee.
Consulate Healthcare of Williamsburg has 90 beds in its nursing home facility and had eight reported deficiencies in its 2018 inspection. It failed to prevent bed sores for its patients, the report said. It has had 38 deficiencies since March 1, 2016. The facility is not part of a continuing care community. It has previously been cited for failure to put its new hires through criminal background checks and for failing to report when an employee stole a patient’s medicine.
Convalescent Center at Patriot’s Colony has 60 beds in its nursing home within its Continuing Care Retirement Community. The facility had 13 care deficiencies during the 2018 inspection and 33 deficiencies in the past three years. It was cited for failing to tell a patient’s family about imminent situations, injuries or physical decline, which might impact the patient’s well-being, among other things.
The nursing home with the fewest inspection deficiencies was WindsorMeade, which had two deficiencies in 2018: vendors didn’t wear hairnets when they stocked a freezer with food and staff crushed a potassium supplement for a patient despite a physician’s order. WindsorMeade has 22 certified beds in it’s nursing facility and was last inspected Feb. 15, 2018; It logged five reported deficiencies in the past three years.
The offerings of each facility can differ significantly. While Envoy and Consulate Healthcare are solely skilled nursing facilities, other healthcare facilities, such as WindsorMeade, Williamsburg Landing and Patriot’s Colony, are continuing care retirement communities.
Williamsburg Landing offers levels of care ranging from independent living to assisted living and eventually nursing home care at Woodhaven Hall. Inspectors generally only look at the nursing homes, as they are the most intensive care facilities and accept federal funding, according to Medicare.
None of the five organizations returned requests for comment about the Medicare inspection reports or past lawsuits.
For Envoy, one deficiency has routinely appeared in the annual inspection reports and more recently in a lawsuit against the nursing home: failure to prevent or treat bed sores.
There have been four lawsuits filed against Envoy or its parent company for medical malpractice specifically about bed sores, according to Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court records. One lawsuit was refiled after a former patient died. Another lawsuit was filed as recently as February.
The business has faced two other wrongful death or medical malpractice lawsuits since 2011: one involved a man who fell and later died, and another involved a woman who drowned in her bathtub, according to court records.
In June 2016, Envoy was penalized $131,286 for deficient care, according to Medicare records. Only one other facility has been cited in the past three years: Consulate Healthcare of Williamsburg was penalized $86,482 in 2017 for deficient care.
For AARP Virginia spokeswoman and Williamsburg resident Ginger Thompson, the issue is always whether an older adult is being provided the care, attention and respect they need.
“Older adults have the right to be provided the best quality of care and should not be (treated) unfairly at a time when they are most vulnerable,” Thompson said in an email. “(Bed) sores can lead to serious health problems and cause a great deal of pain. Falls can cause broken bones that can greatly impair one’s mobility and cause permanent damage, or even lead to death.”
In Virginia, there are nearly 32,000 beds in nearly 300 nursing homes, according to the Virginia Department of Health. All but 15 facilities are inspected annually by the Virginia Department of Health for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and bi-annually for state licensure requirements.
The remaining 15 facilities are not certified for federal reimbursement under the Medicare and Medicaid programs — those facilities are inspected bi-annually for state licensure requirements, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
To be sure, running a nursing facility is not an easy task. Medical appointments need to be made and kept. Food needs to be cooked and stored. Medicines need to be administered to patients at the correct time in the correct way.
While Williamsburg’s federally-funded nursing homes have been tight-lipped, the annual inspections of their premises are important for the quality of life for patients who live at the homes, according to the reports.
For example, if a resident doesn’t feel like a staffer has treated them with dignity, they can report that to inspectors. Problems must be reported and rectified, according to the inspections. The inspections are just one way nursing homes can keep track of their progress.
“(T)he nursing home inspections are very important,” Thompson said. “Residents of nursing homes should be able to live safely and with dignity.”
Want to know more?
For more information on nursing home comparisons by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, go to bit.ly/olderliving23185.
For more specific information about deficiencies found at the nursing homes, go to bit.ly/nursinghomeinspections23185.
To file a complaint about a nursing home, call 1-800-955-1819 or go to bit.ly/FileAComplaintVDH.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.