HEFLIN — The Cleburne County Nursing Home is back in compliance with state regulations, officials say.
Thursday afternoon, nursing home administrator Eura Harrell — her desk piled high with files and paperwork she was compiling for state inspectors — said an inspection team had arrived Wednesday for a two-day follow-up visit.
The team’s return was on account of two earlier inspections that had turned up 14 deficiencies: 10 in May on the annual recertification inspection and four in June, in an inspection triggered by a complaint.
Thursday evening, at a meeting the Cleburne County Hospital Board held to discuss hiring a management firm to help bring the nursing home back into compliance, nursing home medical director Dr. Igor Bidikov announced the facility had passed its follow-up recertification inspection.
Bidikov said he had been surprised by recent events. He said he had talked to inspectors at both inspections.
“The first time I was under the impression there wasn’t anything major going on,” Bidikov said.
A nursing home that isn’t in compliance with regulations and certified by the state can be shut down, officials have said.
The second inspection was triggered after a nursing home resident who had had surgery had to return to the hospital for treatment of infections. Bidikov said he and the inspectors in June agreed that the care at the nursing home wasn’t the reason the resident had to return to the hospital.
The meeting Thursday was held in the nursing home’s dining room to accommodate the number of employees, residents and other interested people who were there. More than 30 people had arrived by the time the meeting started at 5:30 p.m., many there to give their stamp of support to the employees.
Also attending were representatives of Preferred Health Services, who had inspected the home at the board’s request to see if it was in compliance and to offer recommendations for it to stay in compliance. The company gave its report to the board this past Saturday, stating that only two of the deficiencies had been completely fixed.
Brenda Junior, a registered nurse at the facility, told the crowd that the nursing home had passed the inspection despite what PHS had told the board on Saturday.
Jerry Culberson, owner and chief executive officer of the company, interrupted her, saying the employees had used his suggestions to help fix the problems. He said his company had tried to help the nursing home and it would continue to have problems until it addressed them.
Board member Kay Allen, who was obviously angry, broke into the argument and told Culberson the nursing home would be addressing the issues. At that point he left the meeting.
The board also heard from Bill Lester, administrator of Gadsden Health and Rehabilitation Center, and his son, attorney David Lester, about how they could help the nursing home. The center is another potential management firm for the hospital board in its effort to improve the nursing home.
“There’s no getting around you’ve had some significant regulatory problems,” David Lester said. “What we can offer y’all is help staying in compliance.”
One of the nursing home employees told the board members that the inspections are designed to find problems so that the nursing home can fix them. But board member Dan Hopkins said the goal should always be no deficiencies.
Hopkins said the nursing home may have passed its inspection but it still needs help. He noted that past consultants, as in the case of PHS, told the board that the nursing home needs management help.
“We can’t be complacent and stay where we are,” Hopkins said. “I want the best possible. I don’t want run-of-the-mill.”
One of the people in the audience challenged him.
“You don’t shoot a horse just because it stumbles one time,” she said.
“I don’t keep a cow if she doesn’t give milk, either,” he answered.
Allen, in a voice deep with emotion, said her mother had been in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease and had received good care. Allen said she would not support bringing in a management company.
“I want to give you the resources that you need,” she said speaking directly to the employees. “We need to find out from you what you need.”
Harrell also asked the board not to bring in a management company.
“If you give us goals to work on, we will prove to you that we will and we can turn this facility around,” Harrell said.
After a short recess, the board voted 5-2 to table any discussion of hiring a management firm for up to six months while they decide if they really need one. Board member Patrick Nolen abstained from the vote and members Coker Cleveland and Landon Brown voted against tabling the discussion.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 19.
Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545 or, in Heflin, 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.