The Louisiana Department of Health is revoking licenses and terminating Medicaid provider agreements for seven nursing homes that failed to execute emergency preparedness plans and impeded state surveyors shortly following Hurricane Ida.
All seven nursing homes share an owner and evacuated their residents to a single facility, in which the level of care deteriorated to the point where multiple residents died, according to the state health department.
“When issues arose post-storm, we now know the level of care for these residents plummeted; an individual representing himself as the nursing homeowner failed to communicate the situation; and then upon hearing reports from others that conditions at the facility had deteriorated our Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) surveyor was expelled from the property and LDH employees were subject to intimidation,” LDH Secretary Courtney N. Phillips, M.D., said in a statement.
“Ultimately, lives were lost—these were grandparents, neighbors and friends, and we know families are hurting. We as a Department are taking formal regulatory action.”
According to notices sent to the homes and published online, on-site surveys of the evacuation facility conducted by the department suggested that plans were in place for services and supplies and that the facility itself met the minimum requirements.
Denise Boscareno, who identified herself as an administrator and director of operations, told the surveyors that they were initially expecting approximately 365 residents from three homes but increased that number to 843 residents almost two days before the storm hit, according to the LDH’s notices.
Conditions were “clearly and rapidly deteriorating” at the facility during surveyor visits that followed the storm’s arrival, the LDH wrote.
Surveyors entering the site observed residents “in various states of clothing” and little regard for their privacy, general overcrowding, insufficient infection control, inadequate bedding, unanswered calls for help, accumulating waste and a strong scent of urine, among other issues, according to the notice. Nursing staff working at the site also told surveyors that some patients, such as those in need of dialysis, were not receiving the care they required.
Boscareno confirmed some of these issues during the surveyor visits, the LDH wrote, noting that issues like water intrusion and supply shortages.
During later visits to the facility, however, the LDH surveyor said they faced resistance from Bob Dean, the owner of the nursing homes. According to the notices, Dean acted “aggressively” and berated a surveyor with questions about who sent her before telling her to leave the property. He also sent “threatening” voicemails to LDH leadership, the content of which were “vile, repulsive and lacking any professionalism or basis in fact.”
“The facility’s owner, rather than reaching out for help in regards to the situation from state regulators, was orchestrating a campaign with the goal of preventing a proper assessment of what the situation was at the site via threats, harassment and intimidation,” the state health department wrote in the notice. “This type of conduct, while also possibly violating the right of the resident to receive adequate and appropriate health care and protective and support services, is clearly demonstrative of indifference to the welfare of the residents.”
The LDH said that it began planning to evacuate the facility on Aug. 31 and “in collaboration with several state agencies and local officials working around the clock” was able to relocate all of the residents by Sept. 2. The department said that it has also been working to contact the residents’ family members.
The LDH’s notices did not specify the number of deaths tied to the facility, although local media placed the count at seven as of Tuesday afternoon. Dean was also reported to have downplayed the deaths in a phone interview, saying that his facilities see two to three deaths per day under normal conditions.
The seven nursing homes facing regulatory action are:
- River Palms Nursing and Rehab, Orleans Parish
- South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Lafourche Parish
- Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Orleans Parish
- Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, Jefferson Parish
- West Jefferson Health Care Center, Jefferson Parish
- Maison De Ville Nursing Home, Terrebonne Parish
- Maison Deville Nursing Home of Harvey, Jefferson Parish