HEFLIN — In an emergency meeting Thursday, the Cleburne County Hospital Board discussed hiring a management firm to bring the Cleburne County Nursing Home back into compliance with state and federal standards.

During the nursing home’s annual recertification inspection in May, inspectors cited 10 deficiencies. The following month, the nursing home was inspected again in response to a complaint and the inspectors cited it for four more deficiencies, which were initially rated as causing immediate jeopardy. The four deficiencies were later changed to a less critical rating.

Based on the first inspection, the Alabama Medicaid Agency notified the nursing home that it would deny Medicaid payments on any new patients admitted after July 10. Based on the second inspection, the nursing home could face fines.

The state will come for a follow-up inspection to see that the deficiencies have been fixed. However, the board has no idea when.

The board, which oversees the nursing home and the Cleburne County Emergency Medical Service, invited representatives from Centre-based Preferred Health Services, Inc., to speak during Thursday’s meeting.

Jerry L. Culberson, Preferred Health Services’ chief executive officer, and his team offered their service to the board to help bring the nursing home back into compliance. The company currently manages the Piedmont Health Care Center, Cherokee Village Assisted Living Facility and Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center, Culberson said. Culberson told the board members that he couldn’t fix the problems by himself and the current administrator, Eura Harrell, might not be able to fix them by herself. But, he said, his team can.

“We’ll go through this whole building and within two days we’ll know what needs to be fixed and what hasn’t been fixed,” Culberson said.

He said he is offering his service for the short term to get the nursing home back on its feet, but he’s hopeful the board would bring the company on long-term to manage it. The change wouldn’t necessarily mean anyone would lose his or her job, he said. But it would entail changes, including placing the nursing home administrator on the Preferred Health Services’ payroll, he said.

“I think right now the philosophy should be that everyone can keep their jobs,” Culberson said. “But we need to fix this.”

Board chairwoman Sandy Weston said the state has already accepted the nursing home’s plan to correct the deficiencies and the nursing home staff has assured the board that the plan has already been enacted.

“What would be different if you came in?” Weston said.

Board member Pam Richardson said she liked what the representatives were saying.

“It could only look better to the state that we’re reaching out,” she said, and board member Dan Hopkins agreed.

“I’m open to the idea of having someone come in with new eyes,” Hopkins said.

Board member Kay Allen asked if the company could help if the nursing home doesn’t pass the follow-up inspection. Hopkins told her it would be too late then. Culberson said if the nursing home doesn’t pass its follow-up inspection it would probably have to close.

The board voted to continue the meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to give the members and the board’s attorney time to read the company’s proposal.

In other business:

— The board spent about an hour in executive session with John Casey, board attorney. Coker Cleveland, board vice chair, suggested the executive session to talk about job performance and good name and character as well as legal issues. The board voted 5-2 to go into executive session with members Dan Hopkins and Patrick Nolen voting no. Pam Richardson abstained from the vote. The board members didn’t take any action or discuss anything from the executive session after they came back into open session.

Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545 or, in Heflin, 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.