Rumford nursing home not losing Medicare funding; Fed ad called an error

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RUMFORD — Two days after a federal agency in Boston gave notice locally that Rumford Community Home is losing its Medicare affiliation, RCH Administrator Rodney E. Brents was still busy doing damage control about the ad he called an error.

Rumford Community Home is a health and living center offering short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing, residential care and long-term care. It also has an Alzheimer’s unit for people with memory loss or dementia, and is part of Rumford Hospital and a member of the Central Maine Medical Family.

The public notice, published in Wednesday’s Rumford Falls Times newspaper, states that the provider agreement between RCH and the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services — as a provider of skilled nursing services under the Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled Program (Medicare) — will be terminated effective March 18.

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has determined that Rumford Community Home has failed to maintain compliance with Medicare requirements,” the ad stated.

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Not true, Brents said early Friday afternoon in his RCH office at 11 John F. Kennedy Lane. “When I saw that notice, I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” he said. “It’s annoying, but it’s routine.”

CMMS spokeswoman Roseanne Pawelec said Friday from Boston that federal statute requires them to place such notices in newspapers to alert the public if deficiencies are found, whether serious or not. She said she couldn’t confirm whether the ad was in error or not, because she had not seen it.

“Basically, what they do on a case like this,” said Brents, “is they come and they do a survey, because we do the self reporting of incidents and things, and there was a couple citations that they found and hit us with.”

He declined to identify the citations, but did say they would become public when published by the agency. Then, like in-house reports, they will be placed in a notebook at RCH and made available to the public.

Routinely, if the citation is federal, the CMMS agency in Boston can levy fines, and stop admissions and payments for Medicare and Medicaid services, Brents said.

However, the state and federal agencies involved give such facilities time to correct problems before alerting the public.

“I knew they were going to put a notice in if we didn’t clear the (problems), but that was supposed to go out like for March 19 or 13, and the thing is, we already got (the problems) cleared, and so there’s going to be a letter going out” rescinding Wednesday’s ad, he said.

Brents said he contacted the Falls Times on Friday morning and learned the paper had received the notice rescinding the ad, as did Brents. But because the Times is a weekly paper, the notice won’t be published until Wednesday, March 10.

That’s why Brents said that on Thursday he wrote a letter and sent it to each resident and their families.

That letter states, “A public notice was published in the March 3 edition of the Rumford Falls Times that stated Medicare funding for skilled nursing services at the Rumford Community Home would be terminated on March 18, 2010.”

“This notice was published in error and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be publishing another notice rescinding this action,” he stated.

“Please rest assured that the Rumford Community Home is in compliance with all state and federal regulations, and will continue to receive Medicare funding,” he said.

“The Rumford Community Home remains dedicated to providing excellent skilled and long-term nursing care to our residents.”

Brents said people called him after seeing the ad, and asked if RCH was going to close, and he told them it isn’t.

“Basically, it was a non-issue,” he said. The problems were something that “we were able to fix up and get everything back into compliance within two days, and it was small and no problem, and there’s no harm done and nobody got moved or hurt.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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