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Federal authorities have proposed a $611,000 fine for a Kirkland, Washington, nursing home connected to at least 40 coronavirus deaths.

State regulators and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted an inspection of the Life Care Center of Kirkland on March 16, finding serious infractions that they said placed residents in immediate danger. The center is one more than 250 nursing homes and senior facilities in 28 states that are owned and operated by the Cleveland, Tenn.-based Life Care Centers of America.

Authorities said Life Care had at least partially fixed the most serious problems by the time they conducted follow-up inspection last weekend. In a letter to Life Care on Wednesday, CMS proposed a fine of $611,000, but said that could be adjusted up or down based on how Life Care continues to correct remaining problems.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the Life Care Center of Kirkland may be terminated from Medicare and Medicaid participation if it is unable to come into compliance with federal regulations by September. Officials levied a fine of $13,585 per day covering a span of six weeks.

The state Department of Social and Health Services issued its own findings, halting new admissions at the facility. The state said Life Care did not have an adequate infection control system in place and failed to provide quality care, among other findings.

"The facility failed to ensure timely interventions for a respiratory outbreak resulting in multiple acute changes leading to hospitalization and resident deaths," the state found.

Federal officials reported last month that Life Care had failed to notify state officials about the increasing rate of respiratory infections among residents, failed to rapidly identify and manage ill residents and failed to have a backup plan after the facility's primary clinician fell ill.

 

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