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December 22, 2014

Hospital board reprimands administrator

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Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:57 am | Updated: 9:01 am, Thu Aug 21, 2014.

The Cleburne County Hospital Board did not publicly discuss a fine levied against the nursing home in June by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but did reprimand the nursing home administrator at a meeting Tuesday.

The board members spent the majority of the nearly three-hour meeting in executive session, inviting nursing home administrator Eura Harrell and her attorney, Tom Harmon, into the closed session for a time. When they came out, the board voted 5-1 to reprimand Harrell in writing “for actions taken and not taken during recent events” and reserved the right to take further action if other non-disclosures or actions are discovered in the future.

The board didn’t discuss the motion before voting on it. Board Member Clarence Duckworth voted against the reprimand and board vice chair Coker Cleveland abstained.

The nursing home was notified of a fine being levied by the center after the local facility failed to pass its recertification inspection in May and another inspection in June spurred by a complaint found four deficiencies. The complaint involved a patient whose surgical wound was improperly cared for. The patient’s wound later became infected, requiring a hospitalization. The deficiencies were later downgraded to a less serious rating. The center sent a letter dated June 25 to the nursing home saying that it was no longer eligible to bill Medicaid for new patients  until it came back into compliance with state and federal standards. The letter additionally stated the home was being fined $216,000 for the complaint inspection deficiencies plus $100 a day until the home came back into compliance with state and federal regulations.

If the nursing home did not appeal the fines, it was offered a 35 percent discount bringing the total down to approximately $144,000. Harrell told The Star in August that she did waive the right to appeal.

Harrell notified the board about the ban of new admissions shortly after receiving the letter. But after news of the fines came out in August, some of the board members told The Star they were not initially told about the fine and were never consulted about waiving the nursing home’s right to appeal.

The issue has caused some dissension on the board and Sandy Weston resigned from her position as chairwoman of the body at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I can’t take the heat,” Weston said.

Cleveland will take over as chairman and the board decided to elect a new vice chair at its next meeting in September.

In other business the board members:

— Approved purchasing a new computer for $400 to keep track of board financial records.

— Approved the purchase of a recorder for board Secretary Pam Richardson to aid her in taking notes during the meetings.

— Approved donating $500 to East Central Alabama United Cerebral Palsy and $12,500 to Calhoun-Cleburne Mental Health Board.

— Approved rolling over a $203,000 certificate of deposit at Metro Bank.

Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872 in Heflin, 256-235-3545 in Anniston. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.

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