Taking on Greenville East Heartland Health Care Center
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer
Nursing homes who accept patients with Medicare or Medicaid are required to adhere to federal standards and undergo routine inspections of their facilities to ensure that patients are being provided with basic necessities, the opportunity for social activities, proper medication and monitoring, assistance with personal grooming, and other provisions. Such is the case for Heartland Health Care Center: Greenville East.
According to Medicare, Heartland Health Care Center: Greenville East is a 132-bed facility located at 601 Sulphur Springs Road, Greenville, SC. This facility is owned by a non-profit company and has gained a rating of average based on health inspections. While there have been multiple deficiencies discovered at each inspection, none have risen to the point of incurring financial penalties or suspension of Medicare payments at this time. Below we discuss the results of the past four rating inspections ProPublica and Medicare. If a loved one has suffered due to one of these deficiencies don’t hesitate to contact a skilled nursing home lawyer at the Hughey Law Firm to discuss your options for compensation.
Failure to give each resident a notice of rights, rules, services and charges, and to tell each resident who can get Medicaid benefits, which items and services Medicaid covers, and which the resident must pay for: A review of the facility’s denial notices provided to three residents failed to explain the resident’s rights to a Medicare intermediary review.
Failure to provide care for residents in a way that keeps or builds each resident’s dignity and respect of individuality: Random observations revealed that staff members were entering residents’ rooms without knocking and were also providing residents with cartons of milk during mealtime, but were not offering the residents glasses to pour their milk into, despite being asked by the residents for glasses.
Failure to provide a safe, clean, comfortable, and home-like environment: Inspectors observed a strong urine odor in the hallways near residents’ rooms.
Failure to store, cook, and serve food in a safe and clean way: Observations revealed that there was food build-up on kitchen equipment, including inside ovens, the microwave, the steam, on stovetops, and on the floor. Staff also failed to wear hair and beard coverings when preparing meals.
Failure to keep accurate, complete, and organized clinical records on each resident that meet professional standards: Inspectors discovered that some residents had information left out of their medical information files, and one resident had another resident’s records in his file.
Failure to let the resident refuse treatment or refuse to take part in an experiment and formulate advance directives: Inspectors found that a resident who had a Do Not Resuscitate order in his medical file that had been signed by a family member but lacked the two physician’s signatures, signifying that the resident had the capacity to make such a decision. The resident had also not signed the document in spite of being found mentally able to make such a decision.
Failure to store, cook, and serve food in a safe and clean way: A microwave at the facility was found to be in poor condition and incapable of preventing food-borne illness.
Failure to keep accurate, complete, and organized clinical records on each resident that meet professional standards: A review of medical records revealed that two of the residents had other residents’ records in their charts, including one instance where a resident’s chart contained the controlled medical administration of another resident. The review also included missing nurse’s notes for residents.
August 2017 Inspection
An additional inspection two months after the June 2017 inspection that revealed the following two deficiencies:
Failure to write and use policies that forbid mistreatment, neglect, and abuse of residents and theft of residents’ property: A record review revealed that the staff failed to implement and follow policies related to reporting abuse after an allegation of verbal abuse of a resident was made. The allegation was that a staff member remarked to a family member that the resident was “just crazy.” At the time, the resident was angry that his or her wheelchair had set off a door alarm. The facility’s policy pertaining to verbal abuse is that staff are not to make derogatory or disparaging remarks to residents or their family members and that such violations to the policy are reported to the administrator and other officials.
Failure to hire only people with no legal history of abusing, neglecting or mistreating residents; or report and investigate any acts or reports of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of residents.
September 2018 Inspection
In September 2018, another inspection was performed at Heartland Health Care Center: Greenville East. This inspection uncovered nine deficiencies, including:
Failure to honor the resident’s right to organize and participate in resident/family groups in the facility: It was found that the facility failed to address concerns that were brought up by eight members of the Resident Council that included bland tasting food, hard meat, food substitutions not given when asked for, inaccurate menus, and previous responses to the concerns that the dietary department was understaffed. During an interview, the facility’s activity director could not answer the question as to whether the residents’ concerns about the food quality were ever addressed.
Failure to ensure residents have reasonable access to and privacy in their use of communication methods: It was discovered that the facility staff had failed to deliver unopened mail to some of the residents, including bills. An interview with the activity director revealed that the mail staff sometimes opened residents’ mail to determine if it was something that they need or something that needs to go to insurance.
Failure to develop and implement a complete care plan that meets all of the resident’s needs, with timetables and actions that can be measured: It was discovered that a resident had a contracture to the left hand and was also contracted at the left elbow. The resident’s care plan made no mention that he was at risk of contractures and provided no focus area on activities aimed at increasing his range of motion to maintain his current level of motion or prevent further decline. An intervention for a palm guard for the right hand was placed in the resident’s chart. The palm guard was seen on the patient’s left hand, as the right one had no contractures.
Failure to provide appropriate care for a resident to maintain and/or improve range of motion (ROM), limited ROM, and/or mobility, unless a decline is for a medical reason: The above-mentioned resident was noted by the director of nursing to be a good candidate for the restorative nursing program, but the facility no longer has such a program. The resident had not received physical therapy to address left-hand and arm contractures since April.
Failure to provide enough food/fluids to maintain a resident’s health: Interviews and observations led to the inspector’s determination that the facility failed to ensure that therapeutic diets and fluid restrictions were followed as ordered for three residents. Residents were denied sippy cups as adaptive devices and given mashed potatoes as enhanced foods for therapeutic diets in spite of mashed potatoes not being listed as a menu item. The facility’s nurse consultant indicated that there was instability with the dietary staff and that the staff was inconsistent with diet orders, often changing a resident’s food order without consulting nursing staff. Nursing assistant staff was also failing to observe fluid restrictions that were ordered for residents by their doctors and failed to make note of noncompliance with fluid restrictions in the residents’ charts.
Failure to provide sufficient support personnel to safely and effectively carry out the functions of the food and nutrition service: Observations revealed that improper staffing in the dietary department was causing an inability to prepare food in a safe manner. Staff was observed to have taken residents into the dining hall and left them waiting to be served for more than a half-hour before they were given food. Another instance was observed involving residents being told that breakfast would be provided at a certain time. More than an hour later, more than a dozen residents were still waiting to be served. A dietary staff member was witnessed telling a CNA that there were only two members of the dietary staff working that shift, and that was why the meal was so late.
Failure to ensure food and drink is palatable, attractive, and at a safe and appetizing temperature: Residents complained to investigators that the food that was served was not appetizing. Often, the bread would be soaked with fluids from other foods, and the meat and biscuits would be tough. A test tray was ordered, featuring a pork tenderloin that was difficult to chew. An interview with one of the cook’s indicated that she was unaware that the residents were not happy with the quality of the food being served.
Failure to procure food from sources approved or considered satisfactory and store, prepare, distribute, and serve food in accordance with professional standards: Inspectors noted trash on the floor of dry food storage areas, foods stored in the refrigerator that were unlabeled and undated, staff food was stored in the facility refrigerator, clean dishes were stored in a dirty oven, a large scoop was left in a bin containing sugar, a black substance was detected around the ice machine spout, and staff was putting used food tray tops on a food cart with un-served residents’ food. A small trash can beneath a handwashing sink was overflowing with trash, a stove coated in old food debris was being used to prepare meat for residents, and a clear, undated bag of lettuce found in the refrigerator was revealed to have black spots and be soggy to the touch.
Failure to dispose of garbage and refuse properly: Inspectors observed a clear plastic bag filled with garbage hanging on the outside of a dumpster and paper and gloves scattered around the dumpster. A staff member was observed standing behind the dumpster taking a smoke break. The staff member—one of the cooks—stated that he or she would take care of the garbage.
More Information about Heartland Health Care Center: Greenville East
Medicare reports that the facility houses around 108 residents per day, which is higher than the South Carolina average of 90.6 residents per day and the national average of 86.1 residents per day. The residents get less time with licensed nurses, nurses’ aides, and physical therapists than those in other facilities in the state and the nation. In spite of the violations listed, the facility was found to provide better than average quality of resident care, and the quality of resident care for long-stay residents was found to be much better than average.
Stricter Standards to Come
According to this article, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is planning to implement several new assessment tools for state survey agencies that will require more frequent review of nursing homes and encourage timeliness in investigating complaints and providing citation reviews. There will also be an increased emphasis placed on investigating and mitigating “immediate jeopardy” issues at facilities. Additional features to be implemented in 2020 include a warning symbol on listings found on sites featuring nursing home inspection reports for facilities that have had recent incidents of abuse. The agency stated that it is looking for ways to more efficiently enforce issues found at nursing homes without necessarily having to punish facilities monetarily for infractions. The director of CMS stated that sometimes the financial penalties cause the problems at a facility to become even worse.
Another idea that the agency is exploring is decreasing the frequency of inspections for top rated nursing homes to increase the frequency of inspections at facilities that have had many issues. The top performing facilities would be inspected approximately once every 30 months, with the time between inspections not to exceed 36 months.
Call Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys if Your Loved One Was Injured at the Heartland Health Care Center
If you’re concerned that your loved one may have been abused, neglected, or subjected to substandard conditions at a South Carolina nursing home, contact us at (843) 881-8644 or write to us online to talk about your next steps.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
171 Church Street, Suite 330
Charleston, SC 29401