State cites Austin nursing home for several violations

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Despite numerous safety and health citations, Columbus Manor Res Care Home will not shut down anytime soon, nursing home administrators said last week. The Illinois Department of Health could not confirm the facility will stay open, saying there are still unresolved issues.

Columbus Manor, 5107 W. Jackson Blvd., was not in compliance with 11 federal requirements for nursing homes that participate in the Medicaid program, according to an Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services notice that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times Sept. 14.

The violations – based on surveys the state health department conducted at the facility in April, July and August – involved resident rights, quality of life issues and the physical environment, among other problems.

Elce Redmond, an organizer for the South Austin Community Coalition, said there have been “massive problems” the past few years at Columbus Manor, and “it’s a shame residents live the way they do.”

There were 112 residents at the facility as of August, according to the health department, many of whom live there because they qualify for the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program, said Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. The facility has 189 licensed immediate care Medicaid beds.

Patrick O’Brien, owner of Columbus Manor, said there are more like “140 to 150” residents now living at the nursing home.

During a tour of the facility in July, a state inspector reported seeing a pool of standing water in the boiler room and in the laundry room corridor. An extension cord was plugged into an outlet in the boiler room and draped across the floor — through the standing water — to a plugged-in running electrical fan, according to a state report.

The same day, the inspector saw more than 10 pounds of chicken and ground beef, along with other food items, that were not dated — another violation of state law.

The August survey cited the nursing home staff for failing to supervise one resident — a registered sex offender with a history of sexual aggression. The resident left the facility without permission, was hit by a car and admitted to the hospital for a knee fracture in February. The facility failed to create a care plan for the resident before and after the incident to prevent unauthorized departures from the nursing home, according to the survey.

These citations and others had to be rectified by Oct. 1, or the for-profit nursing home will not be allowed to participate in the Medicaid program, said state spokeswoman Arnold.

The facility could continue to operate if it’s terminated from the Medicaid program because it still holds a valid Illinois nursing home license.

However, Arnold said, it is unlikely the facility could keep running without Medicaid funds.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is also in the process of revoking Columbus Manor’s license – which allows it to operate as long-term care facility – due to a previous incident, said Arnold.

On March 17, 2010, a nursing home administrator yelled in an “intimidating manner,” used profanity toward the investigators, threw medical charts and documents, and threatened the Illinois Department of Health with “repercussions if the department wrote up violations,” according to the notice of license revocation.

The administrator ended the mandatory meeting and ordered the investigators to leave the facility — an automatic license revocation, said Arnold.

Arnold could not comment on if or when the license will be revoked.

But nursing home owner Patrick O’Brien said it’s not true that Columbus Manor’s license will be revoked: “(The state) can’t do that because we are in compliance.”

He said the state and the facility have “reached a settlement” but added he was not at liberty to provide the specifics.

After the recent surveys, the nursing home submitted its plan of correction, which details how the violations are to be remedied by Aug. 15, at the latest. The health department confirmed the facility’s plan of correction was implemented and waived the 11 citations during a follow-up visit Sept. 22, Arnold said.

It’s not unusual for the department to find deficiencies, then waive them, Arnold said.

“Sometimes it’s just trying to train the staff of a new policy written,” she said. “Some of those things are easily correctable.”

But the nursing home is not in the clear, Arnold said. The facility also has “life safety issues with each of its five buildings,” she said. These separate life-safety issues are deficiencies with the physical building that also need to be rectified by Oct. 1.

Some of the building deficiencies documented by the state include failing to provide smoke detector sensitivity reports, a National Fire Protection Association standard required under Illinois law for nursing homes, and not having the minimum head room of 6 feet 8 inches for all exit stairwells, among others.

Last week, Elizabeth O’Brien, an administrator at Columbus Manor, said the nursing home is not shutting down but would not comment on the facility’s deficiencies or how and when it plans to fix them.

A Medicaid-certified nursing home is allowed to apply for a waiver for building deficiencies if it needs more time to correct various deficiencies, Arnold said.

Patrick O’Brien said many of the deficiencies have already been corrected. A waiver was submitted to the state for outstanding deficiencies, which he did not specify.

The completion date can be “fluid” because sometimes it may take longer if facilities need to do remodeling, Arnold said.

Redmond, of the South Austin Coalition, said it’s a “tragedy” the residents are not being taken care of properly. But if Columbus Manor shuts down, where will the residents go? he said.

“That’s the biggest tragedy of the situation,” Redmond said. “There has to be a fight for the residents so that they have a place to stay.”

4 thoughts on “State cites Austin nursing home for several violations

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