Beverly Healthcare's Fredericksburg nursing home.

Posted by John Harris on Tue, Aug 01, 2006 @ 11:44 AM

Beverly Healthcare's nursing home agrees to invest in improvements as part of settlement with U.S. attorney's office

Beverly Healthcare has hired staff and made improvements to its Spotsylvania County nursing home as part of a negotiated settlement with the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria.

The nursing home company signed the agreement in April 2004, and has until October to complete the changes and improve care.

The agreement stemmed from inspections of the nursing home from 1998, 1999 and 2000 that showed that its care was deficient, according to a company official.

Word of the settlement was first reported yesterday in a story in The Washington Post.

Beverly Healthcare is a national nursing home chain, based in Fort Smith, Ark. Its nursing home on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania is the area's largest with 177 beds. The facility is one of 354 nursing homes and 18 assisted living centers in the Beverly chain.

Mike Jeffries, regional vice president for the company, said yesterday that Beverly has added to its consulting staff and hired three nurse's aides, two unit managers, and a nurse practitioner at its Spotsylvania home since signing the agreement.

It also has added 60 new electric beds at the home, replaced some of the plumbing and air conditioning systems, remodeled its kitchen and dining room and placed new locks on the exit doors.

The U.S. attorney's office took action against Beverly under the federal False Claims Act, alleging that it cheated the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs by failing to provide residents with quality care, according to the Post account.

"This facility had a three-year history of not having good surveys," Jeffries added.

The problems at the Spotsylvania home were said to result from inadequate staffing.

Paul J. McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, told the Post, "At Fredericksburg, we saw what happens due to the lack of attention to people."

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's in Alexandria declined comment about the agreement yesterday.

Nursing homes in Virginia are inspected annually by the state Health Department for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Nancy R. Hofheimer, director of the state's Center for Quality Health Care Services and Consumer Protection, which does the inspections, said yesterday that she first learned of the settlement from the newspaper account.

Jeffries said his company spent more than $500,000 to make the changes required by the agreement.

"We have better systems in place," he said.

Beverly's latest inspection, done in March of this year, found three deficiencies, Jeffries said. Inspectors found nine deficiencies in 2004, four deficiencies in 2003 and five deficiencies in 2002.

The typical nursing home in Virginia had five deficiencies in 2004, according to Nursing Home Compare, Medicare's national online database. The national average was seven deficiencies.

The agreement between Beverly and the U.S. attorney's office is one of nine similar settlements made with Virginia nursing homes and management companies in the last four years, according to the newspaper account. All were for allegations of poor care.