Maryland health officials have fined three nursing homes for violations of the state’s rules requiring universal coronavirus testing of residents and staff, according to documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request.
The state issued a $10,000 fine to the Stadium Place Nursing and Rehab Center in Baltimore’s Waverly neighborhood; a $4,000 fine to the Glen Burnie Health and Rehabilitation Center; and a $4,000 fine to the Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Rockville, according to letters sent to each facility.
The letters from Dr. Patricia Tomsko Nay, executive director of the state health department’s Office of Health Care Quality, to administrators of the three facilities followed inspections last month and were obtained this week through a Maryland Public Information Act request.
“Specifically, the facility failed to comply with the universal testing required by the Governor and the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health,” Nay wrote in all three letters.
The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are considered to be most at risk of dying or becoming severely ill if they contract COVID-19, and nursing homes and related facilities have accounted for about two-thirds of the fatal cases in the state.
All three of the facilities cited allegedly violated the same four requirements: being responsible for the overall conduct of the facility and compliance with applicable laws; establishing, implementing and maintaining an effective infection prevention and control program; monitoring the health status of all employees; and sharing information with state health officials to ensure the facility is in compliance.
Stadium Place, at 1010 East 33rd Street in Baltimore, was fined $2,500 for each violation. Glen Burnie Health and Rehab, at 7355 East Furnace Branch Road, and Potomac Valley, at 1235 Potomac Valley Road in Rockville, were both fined $1,000 for each one.
The state health department did not explain in the letter why Stadium Place was fined more.
But it took into consideration several factors in levying the fines, including the “number, nature, and seriousness of the deficiencies”; the extent to which they “are part of an ongoing pattern during the preceding 24 months”; the degree of risk to residents’ health, life or safety; efforts made to correct the problems; the facilities’ prior histories regarding the violations; and “such other factors as justice may require.”
“The Department also considered current federal guidelines for civil money penalties and whether the amount of the proposed civil money penalty will jeopardize the financial ability of the nursing facility to continue operating as a nursing facility,” Nay wrote in the letters.
Stadium Place has had 14 staff members test positive for the coronavirus, one of whom died, and three cases among residents, none of them fatal, as of this week, according to the state. The state’s website did not list Glen Burnie or Potomac Valley on its list of facilities with active cases as of Wednesday.
Officials at Stadium Place, Glen Burnie Health and Rehab and Potomac Valley did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
While these three have been cited, it is unclear how many total nursing homes in the state have failed to meet the state’s requirements or how many are offering weekly universal testing of residents and staff. The Maryland Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
All of the state’s 227 nursing homes participated in the state’s mandated universal testing from May through June, according to Joe DeMattos, president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, the industry group that represents nursing homes in the state.
But more than a dozen of those facilities reported results that didn’t match up with the number of tests provided.
“All nursing homes in Maryland participated in that universal testing that ran from May to June,” he said. “Thirteen nursing homes were unable to fully match the rosters that they gave the state in May to the results that came out in June.”
The Health Facilities Association of Maryland has advocated for universal testing and encouraged its members to embrace it, DeMattos said.
The issues haven’t been limited to the facilities. Providing all the nursing homes in the state with universal testing for residents and staff took the state more than a week due to logistical challenges, including shortages of the kits, The Sun reported in May.
The three facilities cited by the state have 30 days after being advised of the violations to request a hearing to contest the penalties. They have 15 calendar days to either pay the full fee or waive their right to a hearing and request in writing that the fine be reduced by up to 40%.
Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Dance contributed to this article.
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