HAMLET — Richmond Pines Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center will not be allowed to seek Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements for inpatient care as of July 2, unless it corrects deficiencies noted during a recent inspection.
A federal office charged with ensuring patient well-being announced the determination in a legal advertisement placed in Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Journal.
Richmond Pines’ potential “involuntary termination” of reimbursements resulted from a lack of compliance with federal standards, the advertisement said. All attempts at repayment for services — for both existing and new inpatients — thus will cease at the close of business Aug. 1, unless Richmond Pines can demonstrate that it has corrected its deficiencies.
Medicare and Medicaid are federal insurance programs that finance care for the elderly and poor, respectively.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services issued the statement through its Division of Survey & Certification regional office in Atlanta.
A spokeswoman for that office said that the decision came after a state surveyor identified two immediate jeopardy issues affecting two patients during a visit in early June.
“One patient was found outside unsupervised, and another patient was entrapped between the mattress and footboard of the bed,” April Washington said. “As a result, the facility was given until July 2 to take steps to correct the issues found and to ensure the safety and welfare of its residents.”
She emphasized that “the facility has not had its certification (for reimbursement) revoked. It is important to note that most facilities take the necessary steps to correct deficiencies.”
A spokeswoman for Richmond Pines’ corporate owner, Principle LTC of Kinston, reinforced Washington’s assessment and said Richmond Pines already was at work on remedies.
Bebe Hill said that since learning of the potential loss of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, “we have been advised that (the government) has accepted the credible allegations in our Plan of Correction.”
“We are therefore confident that when the surveyors revisit the facility, we will be put back in compliance with no disruption of services to our residents,” she added.
Richmond Pines is no stranger to difficulties with federal inspectors.
According to ProPublica, an investigative-journalism website that publishes nursing home ratings based on federal reports, Richmond Pines routinely ranks low on standards of care. ProPublica cites two deficiencies on the most recently published report, in December 2016; two in an earlier 2016 report (June); six (December) and three (July) deficiencies in reports from 2015; and one deficiency (May) in 2014.
The site also lists the imposition of a $94,965 fine against Richmond Pines in December 2015. Neither the nursing home nor its owner contested the fine, ProPublica said.
According to documents on the website Medicare.gov — a site intended to help consumers find good-quality care — the deficiencies ranged in severity from neglecting to help a patient eat to failing to guarantee safety, placing an unspecified number of residents in “immediate jeopardy.”
Medicare.gov ranks Richmond Pines at “much below average” in statistical comparisons to homes throughout North Carolina and in other states: 1 of 5 stars for safeguarding patients’ health, 1 out of 5 for staff and 1 out of 5 for so-called quality measures.
Richmond Pines has 105 Medicare/Medicaid-beds and 91 patients, according to Medicare.com. The latter figure is higher than both state and national averages, which may explain lower numbers for the time nursing and other medical staff spend with each patient daily, as well as lower-than-average results for rehabilitation and higher-than-average results for re-hospitalization shown in federal inspection reports.
Deficiencies aside, the site lists no deliberate mistreatment of residents or infringements of patient rights.
For its part, Richmond Pines’ website says the nursing home is “not just another nursing center (but) a team of uniquely qualified professionals all carefully screened for our nursing and therapeutic talents.”
“Our skills,” the site says, “reach far beyond the stringent requirements of being well-qualified health care professionals.”
Richmond Pines is at 769 N.C. 177 South.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.