Nursing home regulators in six states are monitoring facilities run by an Oklahoma company that officials say has "literally walked away" from financial responsibility for the homes.
California, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas regulators already have installed temporary managers at 33 nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and intermediate-care facilities for people with mental retardation operated by TLC Health Care, a for-profit company in Oklahoma City. The actions were prompted by TLC Health Care's poor finances, which led to missed payrolls, low food and medicine supplies, and utilities being cut off because of overdue bills, regulators said.
Regulators in Illinois and Wisconsin said they are monitoring conditions at six TLChomes in those states, although neither state had taken any enforcement action as of last week.
The company and its owner, Rocky Lemon, "literally walked away" from three troubled homes in California, said Lea Brooks, a spokeswoman for the state's department of human services. "The reports that we had concerned lack of payment for services, food, supplies, payroll checks bouncing," Brooks said. "The staffs of these three facilities were so dedicated that they were using their own money to buy supplies."
The department is looking for permanent operators for the three homes, possibly through a court-monitored receivership, Brooks said.
Attempts to reach Lemon were unsuccessful, but he said in a statement that he acted appropriately to ensure that the homes would continue to run, according to the Associated Press. Referring to Oklahoma and Texas, Lemon said Medicare and Medicaid rates were too low to run the homes properly.
The California attorney general's office also filed a civil suit earlier this month against Lemon and TLC Health Care seeking $2 million in penalties and restitution of at least $50,000 to Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. The suit, filed in Riverside County Superior Court, alleges violations of 37 state and federal regulations that led to patients suffering from "major bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, injuries from falls requiring surgery and inadequate care resulting in poor personal hygiene," the attorney general's office said in a news release.
In Texas, the department of human services persuaded a Travis County district judge to appoint three trustees to oversee 12 nursing homes, one assisted-living facility and one intermediate-care facility.
The Indiana health department has stopped one TLC facility, 99-bed Carlin Park Healthcare Center in Angola, from accepting new patients. The state also has begun proceedings to revoke the facility's license. Officials there also continue to monitor another TLC facility.
In Oklahoma, Lemon told the state health department that he could no longer run the homes, so he sought operators in better financial shape to take over, said Darren Burgess, an assistant deputy commissioner with the health department. "We're monitoring all the buildings," Burgess added.