HAMLET — Richmond Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center has been on 24-hour “fire watch” for several days as the result of sprinkler-system failures, Hamlet Fire Chief Calvin White said Friday.
In addition, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta offices of the Center for Medical & Medicaid Services — which inspects nursing homes to make sure they meet standards for federal Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement — said that the nursing home had informed state regulators it was seeking bids for work to repair burst pipes.
“They’ve had some water issues (resulting from the recent snowfall and freeze) that bled into this week, also,” White said Friday afternoon. Those “issues” include burst pipes and an unrelated collapse of the sprinkler system, he said. That system was repaired once, White said, but failed a second time.
“(Consequently), their employees are assigned … to walk the wings checking rooms” for fire, White said. “They have to do that 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” until the sprinkler system has been repaired.
White said parts of two wings were affected by water that had infiltrated the electrical system, forcing staff to relocate patients. The nursing home called the county’s code inspector as well as White, who must give the OK for an end to the fire watch.
A spokeswoman for Nursing Home Licensure and Certification Section confirmed Friday that Richmond Pines had made all “the appropriate notifications” to the Department of Health and Human Services about its water difficulties.
Asked for details on the leaks and how the nursing home was handling them, Administrator Kelly E. Gorham said Friday that she had “no comments at this time.” Notices bearing Gorham’s name and posted on staff bulletin boards forbade staff from making comments “to the media.”
Principle Long Term Care, corporate owners of Richmond Pines, could not be reached for comment.
Whatever pipes burst apparently did so within the nursing home. Hamlet Public Works Director Billy Stubbs said neither he nor the water plant had any notice of difficulties at Richmond Pines.
Public Works would address leaks or bursts only between a water meter and the street. Richmond Pines apparently used its own shutoff valves, Stubbs said.
It’s “about impossible” to tell how much water flooded the nursing home, Stubbs said; even though the plant monitors unusual usage, it cannot necessarily pinpoint where it occurs.
In mid-2017, CMS — a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services — prohibited Richmond Pines from filing for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as a result of a series of infractions documented by inspectors. The nursing home’s corporate owners also have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in fines as a result of those infractions.
In October, Richmond County Superior Court ordered the owners of Richmond Pines to pay $1.4 million to the family of a former resident who died as the result of poor care.
Medicare and Medicaid are federal insurance programs that finance care for the elderly and poor, respectively.
Staff Writer Gavin Stone contributed to this report. Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]