Originally created 01/03/01

Home loses funds after inspection



An Augusta nursing home will lose state and federal health care funding for its patients Friday because it did not comply with regulations for six months, a state official said.

But the administrator of Magnolia Hill of Augusta said that new management was working to bring the long-troubled home into shape and "fell just short." The facility has applied to get back certification and hopes to have it by the end of the month, if not before, Magnolia Hill Administrator Valerie Coleman said.

The 126-bed home was terminated from the Medicare and Medicaid programs Dec. 5 after an inspection the day before found the facility still out of compliance, said David Dunbar, director of the long-term care section of the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

The facility had first been found to be substantially out of compliance in May and was found repeatedly out of compliance in subsequent surveys. Inspection reports of the home were not immediately available.

The home was purchased from Southern Care in June by Georgia Nursing Homes Inc., and since then tremendous strides have been made despite the poor showing the home has made in the past, Mrs. Coleman said.

"It's had a poor track record for years," Mrs. Coleman said. "The new company came in and put an enormous amount of effort and dollars and staffing in, and made enormous improvements."

But despite their expectations, they had four violations - what Mrs. Coleman called "low-level deficiencies" - in the most recent inspection, and the law kicked in, she said.

"We fell just short," Mrs. Coleman said.

There is a 30-day period after the termination in which the payments continue so patients and families have time to move to other facilities, Mr. Dunbar said.

"This is not a mandatory move," Mr. Dunbar said. "Residents can choose to stay in the facility. But Medicare and Medicaid will not pay for that."

About 34 residents have relocated, another 32 are staying, and 10 are still deciding, Mrs. Coleman said. The company is willing to "underwrite" those that stay and is committed to keeping the facility open, having already applied for new certification with hopes of getting it by the end of the month, Mrs. Coleman said.

The state does not like to terminate facilities and doesn't want to make patients move, Mr. Dunbar said.

"It's not considered a good outcome for anybody," he said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213.