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Woodbriar’s plan to address resident death unacceptable, say Mass. state regulators

March 15, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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State regulators rejected Woodbriar Health Center's proposed plan to address widespread problems following a resident's death. The Wilmington, Mass., nursing home has been given a few extra days to resubmit.

Scott Zoback, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, told The Boston Globe the department will make a recommendation to federal regulators by March 22. State inspectors will also make a surprise visit to the nursing home to see if Woodbriar has fixed issues surrounding communications and staff training.

If Woodbriar's issues are not solved by April 12, federal regulators will begin to cut off state and federal reimbursements for new residents, Zoback said. Beyond that, the state could recommend Woodbriar be terminated from state and federal health insurance reimbursement.

Woodbriar faces thousands in find following state inspectors’ findings of communications breakdown and substandard care. Findings have been submitted to federal authorities.

Helen Mulligan, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told the Globe the penalty will range from $250 to $3,000 a day and the calculation will likely begin on the day of the fall.

On Christmas Day, a 21-year-old nursing assistant used a mechanical lift without assistance to move Mary Meuse, 83, from her bed to wheelchair. Meuse slipped and fell. An X-ray taken within two hours of found she broke bones below both knees, but three shifts of nurses failed to let Meuse, or her family know the results.

When staffers finally told Meuse Dec. 26 she had broken her legs, "She had a shocked look on her face," and agreed to be hospitalized, according to a nursing supervisor who spoke with state investigators. Meuse was taking blood thinning medication for heart problems and was found to be bleeding internally from her injuries. She died Dec. 27.

Woodbriar is owned by Synergy Health Centers, a New Jersey based-company that owns 10 other nursing homes in the state and is licensed to care for more than 1,200 residents. Reports of substandard care have surfaced along with citations by state inspectors.  

Synergy, through a spokesman, says the incident was an anomaly and Woodbriar launched an internal investigation; fired five employees; reviewed its systems, policies and procedures and re-educated staff.

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