MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Most residents at Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis have moved.
For the second time in two years, federal regulators hit the East Memphis nursing home with stiff fines and penalties.
After serious violations and what it called "a pattern of non-compliance", the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid terminated its contract with the facility last month and funding ends Saturday.
Christina Clift is a Consumer Advocate with the Memphis Center for Independent Living.
Among many things, the non-profit helps people with disabilities transition out of nursing homes, but Clift is familiar with the process on the front end too.
"You've had your family in a place where you thought they would receive good health care and all of a sudden you find out they have not been. It makes you weary about finding the next placement for that loved one," said Clift.
A relocation team comprised of state health officials, nursing home employees and the Ombudsman's office helped residents transitioning from Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis.
But for the average family, finding a nursing home can be tough.
Clift added, "Educating yourself is perhaps the biggest thing you can do to making the right choice."
The Nursing Home Compare section at Medicare.gov is a valuable resource. Nursing homes are rated and users can check for violations and fines.
TN.GOV has a similar page and posts full inspection reports.
Clift says making connections before your loved one leaves the hospital is critical.
"When your family member does end up in the hospital, connecting up with the social worker that's there to assist families on discharge."
A few private pay patients are expected to remain at the nursing home. As for those residents who have transferred, the folks from the Ombudsman's office will actually be following them for the next year to make sure they're okay.
Update: The state has lifted the suspension order so the nursing home can start accepting new private pay patients.
The Department of Health released the following statement Friday evening:
Dr. Dreyzehner has ordered the lifting of the suspension of admissions at this facility effective today.
There were 10 residents left in the facility as of 1 p.m. today, with one last resident being transferred today, leaving nine residents who will be remaining in the facility.
Because the facility was terminated from the Medicare and Medicaid programs by CMS, all residents that were receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits still had to be relocated. Our lift of the suspension of admissions allows the facility to begin admitting private pay or other payer source residents. The ongoing federal termination prohibits the facility from admitting Medicare or Medicaid recipient residents until such time as the facility has completed a “period of assurance,” usually a minimum of six months without any major deficiencies being cited as a result of licensure inspections or complaint investigations.
Once having successfully completed the period of assurance, the facility can then reapply for admission into the Medicare and Medicaid programs. CMS will make a decision at that time to either allow our Office of Health Care Facilities to conduct the initial certification survey or require the facility to complete a longer period of assurance. If no deficiencies are identified during the initial certification inspection, then the facility will be allowed to return to participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs and would be able to begin admitting residents on Medicare or Medicaid again.