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After years of trouble, St. Louis County nursing home nearly loses federal funding

After years of trouble, St. Louis County nursing home nearly loses federal funding

Normandy Nursing Center

The Normandy Nursing Center, located at 7301 St. Charles Rock Road, adjacent to the old St. Vincent's Hospital building in Normandy, is photographed on Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2021. Photo by Christian Gooden,

NORMANDY — A troubled St. Louis County nursing home, nearly cut off from federal funding after inspectors found a series of problems — from no heat to unlocked doors — has won a last-minute reprieve just days before deadline.

In one case, a resident at the Normandy Nursing Center, off St. Charles Rock Road, complained of being attacked by a staffer but the complaint wasn’t immediately reported to administrators, according to inspection records. In another case, the facility hadn’t turned the heat on during a spring cold snap, and, instead of turning it on, the employees gave residents extra blankets.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter in late September to the nursing home’s administrator, saying the agency was poised to pull funding. Then, three days before the deadline, CMS rescinded the notice.

It is relatively rare for CMS to issue such warnings, said Marjorie Moore, executive director of VOYCE, a nonprofit based in Marlborough that advocates on behalf of nursing home residents. Moore could not recall another instance of an area nursing home receiving a termination notice from CMS in recent years.

And this year was not the first time inspectors found problems at the facility.

Normandy Nursing Center is a 116-bed facility with 36 residents, as of last month, according to CMS data. It occupies a four-story brick building connected to the Castle Park Apartments. The complex was built in the late 1800s, and was home to St. Vincent’s Hospital. In 1978 the hospital was consolidated with the DePaul Community Health Center in Bridgeton, and in 1983 the building was purchased and converted into apartments.

In 2009, a resident died of a morphine overdose, despite the fact that he had not been prescribed morphine nor any other opiate. In 2011 a family member alleged that her brother, a resident, had been neglected, which the home denied at the time. In 2018, inspectors said the home “failed to provide protective oversight” for a resident with a history of wandering and falls who was hospitalized with a brain bleed after falling from a third-floor stairwell to the first floor.

Then, during a visit in 2020, an inspector recorded issues with how staff administered and documented patients’ medications, and reported that some residents were not bathed frequently enough.

In March, an inspector visiting Normandy Nursing Center reported that the previous month, a resident had expressed fear of a nursing home employee and alleged that the employee beat the resident across the ankles until the resident screamed out. The report said the employee was not immediately sent home, and returned to work the following day. The administrator was not made aware of the allegation until the day after the resident complained.

The administration investigated the incident and was unable to substantiate the allegation, it said in a report.

In April, during a follow-up inspection, a resident who was incontinent complained that he or she had not been changed during the night, despite calling for staff. The home’s director of nursing told CMS she expected staff to have checked the resident and “didn’t know why staff failed to do so,” the inspector wrote.

And for two days in April, when the outside temperatures dropped to lows of 33 and 30 degrees, staff apparently didn’t turn on the heat. According to the inspection report, an employee first noticed that it was cold during the evening shift on April 20, reported it to a nurse, and passed out extra blankets to the residents. The next day another employee called the administrator to report it and passed out more blankets. One resident complained several times, and was given two large blankets, but was told there was nothing staff could do.

The maintenance director came that evening to turn on the heat.

Then during a visit in June, an inspector found that an exit door did not latch properly, and a resident had left the nursing home without the staff’s knowledge.

In early September, CMS told the facility that its Medicare and Medicaid agreements would be terminated on Sept. 23. A letter from the agency said that Normandy Nursing Center could request a revisit, and if that inspection found that the facility was back in compliance it would be allowed to continue receiving federal reimbursements.

On Sept. 20, CMS posted another notice, which said the agency had determined that the nursing home was back in compliance with federal regulations, and the Medicare and Medicaid funding would continue.

The notice did not say why. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services referred questions to CMS. CMS did not respond to questions about why it had rescinded the termination.

The nursing home’s administrator referred questions to the facility’s owner, Creve Coeur-based MGM Healthcare, which also did not respond to requests for comment.

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