The Cleburne County Nursing Home will be shelling out more than $140,000 in fines as a result of an inspection in June generated by a complaint.

Dr. Walter T. Geary, bureau director for the licensure and certification agency in the Alabama Department of Public Health, which oversees Alabama nursing homes, said Friday that the fine was announced in a letter from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to the nursing home dated June 25. It was the same letter that notified the nursing home that it could not bill Medicaid for new admissions after July 10, Geary said.

The nursing home was to be fined $4,800 a day from April 23 through June 6, a total of $216,000. If the facility chose not to appeal, it could receive a 35% discount, lowering the total to $140,400, he said. In addition, the nursing home was to be fined $100 a day from June 7 until it came back into compliance. It came back into compliance on Aug. 7, so the total would be $6,100, Geary said.  With the 35 percent discount the nursing home’s total fine would be $144,365.

The complaint centered on a resident in the nursing home recovering from hip surgery. According to the report, inspectors found that in April, doctor’s orders to change the bandages and clean the wound every other day were changed without a doctor’s order eight days after the patient entered the nursing home. In addition, staff performed other treatment including leaving the wound open to the air without documenting the treatment. The resident was subsequently hospitalized for infections in the wound and required more surgery and six weeks of intravenous antibiotics, according to the report.

Initially, the inspectors cited the nursing home for immediate jeopardy, which automatically triggers a fine, Geary said. The deficiency was later downgraded, according to the report.

Eura Harrell, nursing home administrator, said Friday she was waiting to come back into compliance to announce the final figures. Inspectors visited the nursing home on Wednesday and Thursday and told her the nursing home was back in compliance, she said.

Harrell said she had requested the 35 percent reduction.

Board Member Patrick Nolen was surprised to hear how much the fines might be.

"We knew there was a chance of a fine," Nolen said. "We were led to believe that there was no fine."

Geary said the fines are imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and are under their control. The center uses the money to pay for expenses when nursing homes close, he said. For instance, when a facility in Tuskegee closed, every resident had to be transferred to another nursing home. One was transported to a home in Tennessee to be near family.

“It’s expensive to transport by ambulance to Tennessee,” Geary said.


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