Five ND nursing homes have pattern of safety violations

UPDATE:A recent U.S. Senate report says North Dakota has five nursing homes with a pattern of health and safety violations, and are on a federal watch list. Knife River Care Center in Beulah and Richardton Health center in Richardton both are on the list. Jordan Verdadeiro spoke with both facilities on what this means going forward.

DyAnn Ellwein has been a resident at Knife River Care Center in Beulah for about 10 years. She says she believes management tries to make sure there is enough staff for the 86 residents, but that has pros and cons.

"One bad apple spoils the whole barrel, well that's kind of what happens here," said Ellwein.

Ellwein is head of the resident council, a federal regulation to help voice the opinions of the seniors. She says you can tell some employees are there for the paycheck, and others are there to treat residents with love and care.

"Because if they hear the same thing over and over again, they really start digging into it," she added.

She says many residents say they would rather be at home with their families.

"But since you can't be, this is a very good place because they do care, they have all kinds of things going on, you can't say you don't have nothing to do," said Ellwein.

Seth Fisher took over management in July of 2018. He says all of the deficiencies listed under the department of health were stated before he was hired.

"We have a new leadership team, it's a completely different building, and completely different environment than it was a year ago, and I really feel as though it's for the better," said Fisher.

Fisher says with new management, the staff of about 100 can move forward and provide the best resident center care it can. He says there hasn't been a complaint for over 15 months. Before he was hired, the facility wasn't at full capacity, and now there is a wait list. He added changes have been made.

"Each of our units now has a corresponding nurse manager that serves on that unit to serve as a point for families to reach out with any immediate concerns," said Fisher.

Fisher says the last survey was labor day of 2018. It was one of the best surveys the facility has had in recent years with a low number of overall deficiencies right around the state average. I also spoke to the interim administrator for the Richardton health center who says she does not want to go on camera at this time, but she can't change the past, only navigate the future.

Law makers just passed a bill this legislative session for surveillance video to begin in nursing homes throughout the state. Fisher says the facility is working to get policies in place if a family were to request electronic surveillance for their family member in care. ​

ORIGINAL STORY: A recent U.S. Senate report says North Dakota has five nursing homes with a pattern of health and safety violations and are now on a watch list.

Pennsylvania Senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey looked into under performing nursing homes in the United States.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees a program called the Special Focus Facility Program for nursing homes that under perform consistently.

At the Senators request, it released a list of facilities with a "documented pattern of poor care." It found over 400 senior nursing homes in the country with deficiency statements, where the facility must go back and the state department of health provides a plan of correction.

The facilities on the list in North Dakota are:

Western Horizons Care Center, Hettinger

Dunseith Community Nursing Home, Dunseith

Richardton Health Center, Richardton

Minot Health and Rehabilitation, Minot

Knife River Care Center, Beulah

Trinity Homes in Minot was also on the list but has been removed after resolving its deficiencies.

North Dakota Department of Health says facilities are not required to let the families of those in care know if it has had a series of complaints, but if there is a family who has specifically sent a complaint, the state will send a letter.

The department follows the CMS Manual system, a severity ranking with different levels. "Level 1, no actual harm with potential for minimal harm; Level 2, no actual harm with potential for more than minimal harm that is not immediate jeopardy; Level 3, actual harm that is not immediate jeopardy; Level 4, immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety."

The DoH also says complaints could be something small, like a broken door, to something serious like neglect, or abuse. Both are placed in different categories, either a Life Safety Code (involving the building) or Health (involving the patient).