Clark County

Nursing home owner spent $3.7 million in 2004 case

The owner of the Winchester Centre for Health and Rehabilitation, which recently was sanctioned by state and federal agencies, was forced to spend $3.7 million upgrading its patient care and reimbursing Medicaid for fraud and abuse in a 2004 settlement.

A state settlement agreement that covered the Winchester facility and three others in Kentucky ended a year ago. The current citation resulted from a medication error, nursing home officials said in a statement Thursday.

The state Office of Inspector General has not yet released the details of the Type A citation, the most serious the state can give.

Although the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified the Winchester facility that it will pull its funding as of Feb. 7, nursing home officials said in the statement that they do not plan to close.

"During the most recent survey, the state raised some issues and concerns, which we take seriously," the statement said. The nursing home had submitted a plan of correction to the state and had corrected the problems, it said.

The earlier investigation at the Winchester nursing home and three other facilities, owned by what was then known as Kindred Nursing Centers, began in 2000. Kindred is based in Louisville.

The problems that resulted in that settlement included untreated infections or delayed treatment of infections, serious injuries from improper use of restraints, failure to assess and treat wounds, failure to administer medicines and lack of supplies to treat life-threatening conditions.

In 2004, Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson was the special prosecutor appointed by the attorney general's office who negotiated the settlement with Kindred. Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway's office, said Thursday that the Winchester facility had not violated the terms of the 2004 settlement that ended February 2008.

Martin would not say whether the attorney general's office was currently investigating the Winchester nursing home.

If the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services terminates its contract, the nursing home will no longer be certified to provide care to people who receive Medicare and Medicaid.

Patients living in a home at the time of the termination are transferred to facilities that are certified by the federal centers. None of the 166 residents had been moved as of Thursday, the release said.

"However, we would in no way impede any resident who wanted to move for any reason, as long as they wanted to go to a medically appropriate setting," the nursing home officials said in their statement.

Lexington attorney Masten Childers II said Thursday that he had settled two lawsuits against the Winchester nursing home that allege failure to provide appropriate care. A third lawsuit is in process, Childers said.

"You should not have to file a lawsuit to find out what happened to your relative in the nursing home," said Childers, who oversaw the regulation of nursing homes in the mid-1990s as secretary of the Cabinet for Human Resources.