By Calvin Men Santa Cruz Sentinel
WATSONVILLE — Leaders of two Watsonville nursing homes agreed to pay $3.8 million in settlement funds after a federal lawsuit was filed against them alleging they provided “substandard or worthless services,” overly medicated residents and submitted false Medicare and Medicaid claims, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said.
The settlement comes eight months after the lawsuit was initially filed alleging the gross misconduct.
In the original complaint, the leaders received more than $20 million in Medicare and Medicaid payments for services characterized as “non-existent, grossly inadequate, materially substandard, and/or worthless,” according to the initial complaint.
Among practices used at the facilities were use of use of narcotics and antipsychotic drugs to treat residents showing symptoms of dementia, depression and pain. Because of that, the residents “became victims of chemical restraints for the convenience of management” and the facilities did not keep proper medication records and monitor medication side effects, according to the initial suit.
“It’s outrageous when nursing home owners accept Medicare and Medicaid money to care for vulnerable nursing home residents and in return provide care so lacking in quality and compassion it shocks the senses,” Office of Inspector General special agent in charge Ivan Negroni said in a statement.
Among the defendants named in the suit were Country Villa Watsonville East, which has since been renamed Watsonville Nursing Center; Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which has since been renamed Watsonville Post-Acute Center; CF Watsonville East, LLC and CF Watsonville West, LLC; and the ARBA Group, the entity overseeing the finances of the nursing homes; and Country Villa health Service Corp., the company responsible for the nursing home management.
The suit goes on to describe specific complaints from individual patients and other problems from 2007 to 2012.
Along with the settlement, the defendants entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement that requires them to implement and maintain compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations.
“Our agency is committed to investigating such substandard care and, through our Corporate Integrity Agreement with these two nursing homes, requires an independent monitor and other protections designed to hold these nursing homes accountable for providing appropriate, high quality care in the future,” Haag said.
Money from the settlement will go to the U.S. and state.
Authorities advised families and victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation in a nursing home to contact the California Long Term Care Ombudsman at 800-231-4024 or www.aging.ca.gov/Programs_and_Services/Long-Term_Care_Ombudsman/.
(c)2015 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at www.santacruzsentinel.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. AMX-2015-05-23T05:16:00-04:00
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