Nursing home company pays $613,300 in federal settlement
5:37 pm, January 2nd, 2013
A Texas holding company that operates six metro Atlanta nursing homes has agreed to pay $613,300 to settle a whistleblower suit in which it was accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid for substandard nursing services that harmed patients at two of its nursing homes — Golden LivingCenter Glenwood and Golden LivingCenter Dunwoody (formerly known as Golden LivingCenter Northside), according to the U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Georgia.
GGNSC Holdings LLC of Plano, Texas – which also operates Golden LivingCenter –Briarwood, Golden LivingCenter –Decatur, Golden LivingCenter-Kennestone, and Golden LivingCenter – Medical Arts) – also signed a corporate integrity agreement with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General requiring it to implement policies that will insure compliance with federal regulations governing patient care, federal prosecutors said.
In addition, an independent monitor will oversee operations at the six metro Atlanta nursing homes for as long as five years to make certain that patients will receive appropriate care, prosecutors said.
In announcing the settlement, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said that her office is committed to protecting and improving the lives of nursing home residents.
“By failing to provide adequate wound care services to its nursing home residents, Golden Living placed at risk the life and health of individuals who were entrusted to its care,” Yates said. “This type of threat to the health and well-being of the elderly in our communities will not be tolerated.”
The settlement resolved claims against GGNSC Holdings laid out in a lawsuit filed by physician Joseph L. Micca. Micca was the medical director of subacute services at Golden LivingCenter Northside from September 1998 until he was terminated in November 2009, according to the suit. Subacute patients are those who require skilled nursing care and have usually been admitted to a nursing facility from a hospital, according to the suit.
Injuries suffered by patients included hip dislocations; injuries from gastronomy feeding tubes that were either improperly inserted or traumatically removed when patients were moved improperly; the failure to provide patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with the supplemental oxygen they required; improperly administered unprescribed narcotics to a patient, leaving her in danger of respiratory suppression and death; the failure to care for bed-ridden patients so that they developed blisters and bed sores that were ignored and became infected; and failure to care for wounds that led in at least one case to extensive gangrene, according to the suit.
As a federal whistleblower, Micca will receive a share of the settlement payment. The government’s share of the settlement is $423,544, prosecutors said.