CMS Designates Three More Iowa Nursing Homes as Eligible for Special-Focus Facilities List

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on May 12, 2024 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights

empty living room at care facilityThree Iowa nursing homes have been designated as being eligible candidates for a national list. Unfortunately, the facilities on this list were not designated as a distinction of honor. Rather, the list these facilities are considered among the nation’s worse. As such, they have been added to the list of candidates waiting to be moved up to the national list of worst long-term care facilities.

Facilities added to the Special-Focus Facilities list (SFF) have a history of serious issues stemming from low-quality care. Being on this list subjects the facilities to increased scrutiny from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The three latest Iowa facilities now eligible for this list include:

  • Fleur Heights Center for Wellness and Rehab
  • Pine Acres Rehabilitation, and Care Center
  • Dunlap Specialty Care

Seven other Iowa nursing homes were previously designated as being eligible for the SFF CMS list and are still waiting to be added:

Two Iowa nursing homes are currently designated as special-focus facilities (Aspire of Gowrie and Arbor Court of Mount Pleasant). These two facilities are no longer just candidates as they have been moved to the list. Once on the list, a facility must complete and graduate the program to be removed from it.

Problems at Dunlap Specialty Care

Dunlap Specialty Care has a record of violations, including allegations of resident abuse and failure to keep residents safe:

  • December 2023: There were allegations of failing to properly respond to a resident who fell and suffered a head injury.
  • June 2023: Dunlap was fined $45,075 over allegations of a resident abusing other residents. These allegations included that resident throwing an unopened soda can at one resident, punching a second resident and slapping a third. This person continued abusing other residents, even after the police were called twice.

Pine Acres Rehabilitation and Care Center

State officials received 13 complaints about this facility, which led to an inspection. Officials filed 12 more complaints during their investigation.

Nursing home inspectors gathered evidence to substantiate every one of these complaints, recording 62 violations against Pine Acres.

In 2023, CMS levied a $189,685 fine for regulatory violations related to the leg amputation of a resident. CMS found that Pine Acres staff did not respond to this resident’s worsening condition. The resident had signs of blood poisoning, gangrene, septic shock and a bone infection.

The primary owner of Pine Acres has connections to other facility owners facing allegations they defrauded the government.

Fleur Heights Center for Wellness and Rehab

Fleur Heights Center for Wellness and Rehab has a long history of failing to comply with federal staffing level requirements. In fact, Fleur has the worst record on this issue of any other Iowa nursing home. Between May 2023 and February 2024, officials gave the facility five citations for failing to have sufficient staffing levels.

There were numerous uninvestigated complaints against the facility, which led to an inspection in October 2023. During the inspection, a resident who was in bed called for help. Instead of attending to the resident, two staff members simply flipped off the call light and walked out of the room. An inspector saw this happen.

Eligible Facilities Do Not Get Oversight

One of the problems with being a candidate, is that it takes time to get added to the list. This is because the Special-Focus Facilities list has a maximum of two spots for each state. Only two homes in each state can be on the list at any given time.

If a state has numerous facilities that have been found to provide low-quality care, they must wait to be added to the list. They are eligible and can be designated as candidates for the list, but they cannot be included i=on the list until a space opens up. The only way these homes could be added is if the special-focus facilities improve and get taken off the list. Unfortunately, graduating from the list could take as long as four years.

Many states have several nursing homes that are eligible for the special-focus list and waiting to be included. The nursing homes who are only designated as eligible for the list will not benefit from any additional oversight. This gap in time leaves residents living in these facilities at risk of continued abuse or neglect.

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