Raleigh, NC-- The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is taking action to avoid more abrupt closings of home health care facilities. This comes afer several care facilities in the Triad closed with just a few days notice to patients and employees.
In January, WFMY News 2 reported on the closure of two Serenity Care Assisted Living facilities in Guilford County and the Tillery Chase Adult Care Home in Montgomery County.
All three closed with just a few days of notice to employees and patients.
Tuesday, NCDHSS said those closures may have violated a state law. After WFMY brought the problems surrounding the quick closure of facilities to the state's attention, Secretary Aldona Wos appointed a task force to work on a plan to identify adult residential care facilities that have the potential to close rapidly and to develop uniform protocols for responding to emergency housing needs.
Dr. Wos said in the media release that the sudden closing of those facilities was in violation of North Carolina's 30-day notice rule.
Through the combined efforts of DHHS officials, local departments of social services and the local behavioral health managed care organization, all displaced residents were successfully relocated to new homes.
Guilford County DSS Spokesman Steve Hayes said, "The key to any type of crisis, especially one like this, is training. Your social workers need to know what the protocols are. They need to be consistent. Then, you need to practice following those protocols. You do that over and over again so that when a crisis occurs, people immediately know, these are the protocols and this is what I'm supposed to do."
Later, Hayes added, "It's been very gratifying to see the new Secretary see something happen at a local level and then have the state take action at her direction to make sure that the response is statewide and doesn't happen again."
The task force, which went to work immediately, has taken the following steps toward the Secretary's goal:
-- Begun utilizing databases to identify facilities that have the potential to close rapidly, including information about licensure/enforcement action, effect of federal and state actions that could affect a home's finances, and presence of any criminal convictions/charges
-- Exploring ways to further assist local agencies to provide continuity of care for those who may be adversely affected by sudden facility closures
-- Surveying other states about measures being taken against facilities that act in a way that jeopardizes residents
According to the release, "Recent assessments of residents in licensed care homes have determined that thousands may be ineligible for Medicaid payments to cover some of the services they receive.
As a result, some facilities may discharge residents, many of whom have appealed eligibility denials and are maintaining residency while they await the outcome of their appeals.
Secretary Wos has instructed the task force to work proactively with a goal of preventing another crisis situation for residents."