Washington nursing home faces $600K+ fine, loss of CMS funding after 37 COVID-19 deaths

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Kirkland, Wash.-based Life Care Center is being fined more than $611,000 and could lose Medicare and Medicaid funding if it doesn't correct deficiencies tied to at least 37 COVID-19 deaths, The Washington Post reports.

Officials said 129 Life Care residents, staff and visitors were infected with COVID-19 in one of the first U.S. outbreaks. The nursing home failed to report a respiratory illness outbreak to authorities for two weeks, despite laws requiring outbreaks be reported within 24 hours, according to an April 1 letter from CMS. Life Care also delivered inadequate care to residents and failed to provide 24-hour emergency physician services, the letter said.  

The nursing home also kept admitting new patients and held events such as a Mardi Gras party for residents and guests, CMS inspectors found.

Life Care lacked a "clear medical plan of action," inspectors said, which led to a "systemic failure." 

Unidentified administrative staff members said "it was very chaotic" as patients and staff were sickened. Patient records were incomplete, sick staff members were unable to care for residents, and two nursing assistants said they hadn't been trained to properly sanitize items with bleach wipes.

The total fine, $13,585 for every day the alleged deficiencies took place, could change depending on the facility's compliance with its correction plan. If the deficiencies aren't fixed by Sept. 16, CMS will end the nursing home's Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

Life Care did not respond to The Washington Post's request for comment. 

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