The Louisiana Department of Health Tuesday announced the licenses of seven nursing homes that evacuated to a facility in Tangipahoa Parish ahead of Hurricane Ida have been revoked and their Medicaid provider agreements have been terminated.
At least seven nursing home residents that evacuated to a warehouse in Independence have died. Four of those deaths have been confirmed as storm-related.
The 7 nursing homes are:
- River Palms Nursing and Rehab, Orleans Parish
- South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Lafourche Parish
- Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Orleans Parish
- Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, Jefferson Parish
- West Jefferson Health Care Center, Jefferson Parish
- Maison De Ville Nursing Home, Terrebonne Parish
- Maison Deville Nursing Home of Harvey, Jefferson Parish
"All of these nursing facilities clearly failed to execute their emergency preparedness plans to provide essential care and services to their residents," said LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips. "When issues arose post-storm, we now know the level of care for these residents plummeted; an individual representing himself as the nursing home owner failed to communicate the situation; and then upon hearing reports from others that conditions at the facility had deteriorated our LDH surveyor was expelled from the property and LDH employees were subject to intimidation. Ultimately, lives were lost — these were grandparents, neighbors and friends, and we know families are hurting. We as a Department are taking formal regulatory action."
The Advocate/Times Picayune reported this weekend that the emergency plan that moved the 850 nursing home patients into the warehouse was approved by state health officials.
Attorney General Jeff Landry has also announced that a team of his investigators at the Louisiana Department of Justice has launched a full investigation to determine who decided to move the patients to the warehouse, who authorized the patients be moved to that facility, who oversaw the movement, who turned away state officials attempting to look into the situation, and how exactly the deaths occurred.
A notice from LDH to the nursing homes reads, "This notice is to inform you that the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is terminating your provider agreement with the Louisiana Title XIX Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid). Pursuant to La. R.S. 46:437.11(D)(2), the Secretary may voluntarily terminate a provider agreement immediately if a health care provider is the subject of a sanction or of a criminal, civil, or departmental proceeding," reads the notice to nursing facilities of the termination of their Medicaid agreements, effective immediately."
"An emergency preparedness plan is more than just a form of paper compliance. The implementation must accomplish the goals it is designed to meet. Some of those goals include the delivery of essential care and services to residents, the procedures for ensuring that all residents have access to licensed nursing staff, and that services are provided, during all phases of the evacuation, including transporting of residents. it is clear that the facility failed in this regard," reads the notice to nursing facilities of the revocation of their licenses.
"…the situation at the site was clearly and rapidly deteriorating. While this was going on, the facility's owner, rather than reaching out for help in regards to the situation from state regulators, was orchestrating a campaign with the goal of preventing a proper assessment of what the situation was at the site via threats, harassment and intimidation. This type of conduct, while also possibly violating the right of the resident to receive adequate and appropriate health care and protective and support services, is clearly demonstrative of indifference to the welfare of the residents," the notice continues.
Upon two in-person site visits by Health Standards and an environmental health assessment by an OPH Sanitarian prior to Ida's landfall, LDH says it did appear that from a facility standpoint, the"minimum necessary components to provide a safe sheltering environment for a very short period of time were met. There were plans for staffing, food service and laundry, potable water, portable toilets, and a working generator appropriately sized for the facility.
Conditions at the facility, most importantly including care for residents, deteriorated following the storm. An individual representing himself as the owner of these nursing homes failed to communicate the dire situation to the state and ask for help. When LDH went on-site August 31 upon receiving concerning reports from third parties, this operator expelled LDH from the property and prevented the completion of our site visit. In addition, over the course of the event, LDH team members were subject to intimidation."
LDH said it worked in collaboration with state agencies and local officials on September 1-2 to get all residents to immediate safety. Since then, the agency's Office of Aging and Adult Services has been fielding calls via 211 to connect families to their loved ones who were evacuated to the Tangipahoa facility, it said. LDH added it has also contacted all family members for each nursing home resident remaining at the medical special needs shelters in Regions 2 (Baton Rouge), 6 (Central), and 7 (Bossier/Shreveport).
State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter has ordered that the 7 facilities are prohibited from admitting or repatriating patients.
RELATED STORIES: Public assistance needed in investigation of nursing home transfers, deaths
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