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HomeNewsMedical
Published: Tuesday, 1/15/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Liberty Nursing Center set to close

Medicare, Medicaid end home's funding

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Liberty Nursing Home in Toledo. Liberty Nursing Home in Toledo.
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Following a history of problems, a Toledo nursing home has lost its Medicare and Medicaid provider agreements, effectively shutting the home down.

Liberty Nursing Center of Toledo, 2005 Ashland Ave., has also been facing the loss of its state license since August for several instances in which staff allegedly failed to prevent and respond to alleged abuse.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told Liberty in a letter last month it was being fined at least $36,400, in addition to having its Medicare and Medicaid agreements terminated, effective Jan. 8.

Residents must leave Liberty by Feb. 7, said Beverley Laubert, state long-term care ombudsman with the state Department of Aging.

Many residents at Liberty are there because of severe mental illness, a trend that is becoming more common at nursing facilities.

Scott Sylak, executive director of the Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, said his agency is working with the state to help clients transfer to another nursing facility or a group home.

Ms. Laubert said the loss of Medicare and Medicaid payments is effectively shutting the facility down.

“Facilities are so reliant on Medicaid that it is difficult to stay open as a private-pay facility,” she said.

For a nursing home to be shut down is fairly rare, according to Richard Mollot, executive director of consumer watchdog group the Long Term Care Community Coalition.

Ohio has moved four times since 2006 to revoke a nursing home’s license, according to the state Department of Health.

Liberty has a history of findings of “immediate jeopardy” — the most severe infraction the state can cite in a nursing home inspection.

A Nov. 8 survey from the Ohio Department of Health noted facility staff “failed to report an allegation of resident-to-resident sexual abuse to the administrator, take action to protect residents after an allegation of abuse was made and immediately initiate an investigation into the incident.”

Recent problems include an incident in July where a male resident diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, delusions, and sexually aggressive behaviors entered the room of a partially paralyzed female patient.

Nurses found him lying on top of the woman with his pants removed and her incontinence brief pushed aside.

Nurses notified the man’s psychiatrist and transferred him to a hospital, but after Liberty staff determined the man had no sexual contact with the victim, an administrator ordered them to “clean up” the woman, and she did not undergo a doctor’s examination.

Liberty did not notify her guardians, file an official report with the Toledo Police Department, or notify the health department.

In December, 2011, a motorist found a resident wandering without a coat two miles from the facility. In 2009, two patients left the building and allegedly used cocaine and marijuana.

And there have been two incidents in which patients jumped out of windows and injured themselves.

Each time, Liberty failed to develop care plans for other residents at risk of escape, the health department said.

A hearing on the facility’s state license is scheduled for March.

If Liberty is able to reach a settlement and not lose its license, it can sell its bed capacity to another nursing home, according to health department officials.

Liberty’s parent company, Liberty Health Care Corp., operates more than a dozen other nursing homes across Ohio, including Liberty West Nursing Center of Toledo, 2051 Collingwood Blvd., and Liberty Nursing Center of Fremont, 1865 Countryside Dr.

The corporate office did not respond to a request for comment, nor did a representative of the Service Employees International Union District 1199, the union representing facility employees.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: kgiammarise@theblade.com or 419-724-6091, or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.



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