Raleigh nursing home to lay off 90 employees

dbracken@newsobserver.comJune 25, 2012 

Blue Ridge Health Care Center, a Raleigh nursing home that lost its Medicare and Medicaid funding this year because of conditions at the facility, is laying off about 90 workers.

The home, which will continue to operate, announced the cuts in a notice filed last week with the N.C. Department of Commerce. The layoffs are expected to take effect on or about Aug. 22.

In a statement, Blue Ridge said it continues to seek recertification but that the departure of Medicaid and Medicare patients means it can no longer keep its current staffing levels. The facility is asking for volunteers, but will proceed with layoffs if not enough people step forward.

“We remain hopeful that the work we are doing to make substantial changes and improvements will be recognized by (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), and we will be recertified,” spokeswoman Sharon Donaghue said in the statement.

In late April, Blue Ridge was told that its eligibility to receive Medicare and Medicaid funds was canceled. The state then issued an order for the home not to admit any new patients. That order was rescinded on June 15, allowing the home to admit new residents who pay with private funds.

Blue Ridge is owned by CareOne, a New Jersey long-term care provider.

It’s unclear how many of Blue Ridge’s patients were being covered by federal programs.

When it applied for its 2012 license on Sept. 30 last year, Blue Ridge reported having 116 patients. The vast majority were from Wake County. The facility has 134 beds.

In the renewal application, the Raleigh facility said that of the 134 beds, 20 were designated as ventilator beds. It said that 54 of its beds were approved only for Medicare patients, and the rest were certified for use by either Medicare or Medicaid patients.

The state conducted an inspection early in April and cited issues with six patients, including one who died after removing her own tracheotomy tube March 20. Nurses working the night the woman died told state officials they were not aware the woman had been agitated and had pulled the tube out nine times on March 17 and three times on March 18.

A letter to Blue Ridge administrator Brian Joiner, who took over in March, cited conditions that “constituted immediate jeopardy and substandard quality of care.”

In addition to the suspension from the aid programs, federal officials imposed a $4,550-a-day civil penalty from March 16 through April 26.

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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