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

Following issues discovered by state health care compliance surveyors earlier this month, Life Care Center of Ooltewah was put on notice by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday that payments made to the facility will be temporarily halted for 30 days next month and could be in jeopardy long-term.

State and federal authorities will halt Medicare and Medicaid payments for any new residents starting Oct. 10, effectively limiting the $16 million Ooltewah nursing home's new resident intake.

Residents admitted to the Snow Hill Road facility before Oct. 10 will continue to receive government aid until Nov. 9.

Medicare funding is regulated through the federal government and is paid out on behalf of disabled residents and those over 65.

Medicaid is regulated by the state and is paid out based on resident income.

In a statement provided by Life Care, state surveyors responsible for checking health facility compliance to quality standards discovered undisclosed issues at Life Care Center of Ooltewah during a recent visit.

"During a September visit from state surveyors, the survey team noticed some areas of concern," said Richard Ervin, executive director of the facility, in a statement. "We responded to the notification quickly and are continuing to work in close contact with the state to ensure our associates and protocols are compliant with state standards in all areas."

When paying out Medicare and Medicaid money to health care facilities, the state and federal governments agree to pay for certain standards of quality care. The government will halt funding if surveyors feel the level of care at a facility is not up to expectations or the requirement for participation in the agreement.

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has determined that Life Care Center of Ooltewah is not in compliance with the requirements for participation," according to a public notice issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Atlanta.

Following the termination of new Medicare and Medicaid payments to the facility, Life Care Center of Ooltewah officials will have 30 days to correct the compliance issues.

If the issues are not resolved, an indefinite termination of government payments is possible.

Government surveyors will make an unannounced visit to Life Care Center of Ooltewah in the 30-day temporary payment termination period to determine whether all issues have been corrected with satisfaction.

Since its construction in 2013, Life Care Center of Ooltewah has generally performed well on government compliance visits.

The 120-bed facility has an "above average" overall rating and an "above average" health inspection rating. According to www.medicare.gov, there were no complaint-driven inspections between September 2014 and Aug. 31, 2015.

During a June 2014 visit to the facility, surveryors cited four minor issues, including failure to resolve some residents' call-light issues, failure to properly treat some residents' bed sores, failure to properly maintain some drug and prescription records and failure to properly keep professional-standard and organized clinical records on some residents.

All four violations were considered to present minimal harm or potential for actual harm.

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

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