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The Life Care Center of Ooltewah is located on Snow Hill Road.

 

A week after Life Care Center of Ooltewah had its Medicare and Medicaid payments threatened by the state and federal governments, officials at the Snow Hill Road nursing home have submitted a satisfactory plan to bring their facility back into compliance, according to state health care officials.

The facility's temporary suspension of government care payments starting Oct. 10 is expected to be lifted, pending approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which typically follows the recommendation of state health care surveyors.

Having the suspension of government health care payments lifted would allow Life Care Center of Ooltewah to continue taking new patients who depend on Medicare and Medicaid payments, and would also allow for the facility to continue caring for current residents who receive government health care aid.

The Ooltewah facility first found itself in jeopardy of losing government health care payments for its residents after state health care surveyors cited issues with prescription transcription and administration during a mid-September visit.

One resident missed 25 doses of prescription Xarelto (blood thinner) prescribed by her doctor for a blood clot because of transcription and administration failures by members of the nursing staff, according to state documents.

Upon discovery of a blood clot in the resident's leg, a doctor phoned in a prescription for Xarelto and had the medicine sent to Life Care Center of Ooltewah. But because of transcription errors, the medicine arrived at Life Care but sat unused, and was not administered. The medicine was ultimately returned to the pharmacy.

Upon discovery of the error, state regulators deemed the Life Care facility had placed the resident in "immediate jeopardy" of having the blood clot move to a lung, or other parts of the body, and cause serious harm. The state also cited the nursing home for failing to proper handle medication orders, administration orders and the transcription of physicians' telephone orders.

Last week, the regional CMS office in Atlanta issued a public notice saying Life Care Center of Ooltewah failed to meet the agreed-upon safety and health standards between federal and state governments and health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments on behalf of patients or residents.

An unannounced, surprise follow-up visit by state health care surveyors was ordered to find whether Life Care Center of Ooltewah was making progress in correcting the problems discovered in September. The facility's deadline to correct the problems was Oct. 10 — also the day a 30-day suspension of accepting new Medicare or Medicaid residents would have gone into effect.

Surveyors made their surprise visit to the facility, state officials said Friday, and the trip yielded a positive response for Life Care.

Surveyors reported Life Care Center of Ooltewah had properly addressed the problems discovered last month. As of Friday, the state was waiting for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to sign off on the lifting of Medicare and Medicaid payment suspensions.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

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