Ky. nursing-home company closes 2 Louisville homes after investigation

Published 10:35 am Monday, June 19, 2023

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Exceptional Living Centers of Lexington, which operates several Kentucky nursing homes. “has agreed to close two of its Louisville facilities, displacing roughly 200 people, after state inspectors uncovered serious problems over the past six months, including a rodent infestation, filthy living conditions and a general lack of care for the elderly and ailing residents,” John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The company and the federal government entered a settlement last week in U.S. District Court “to voluntarily terminate its Medicare provider agreements at Hillcreek Rehabilitation and Care and St. Matthews Care and Rehabilitation Center. Such a loss is typically a financial death blow for a nursing home,” Cheves reports. “The company is working closely with state and federal officials to transfer residents of Hillcreek and St. Matthews to other nursing homes around Jefferson County by July 6, according to its closure plan, obtained by the Herald-Leader. The company also agreed to pay civil monetary penalties of $1,026,408 to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

Inspection reports of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, “which inspects nursing homes on behalf of the federal government . . . cited a persistent rodent infestation; unheated bedrooms in freezing winter months; filthy living conditions, including dirty bathrooms, the lingering stench of urine and feces, and trash cans overflowing with adult diapers; a lack of clean linens; blood-testing equipment that was not sanitized between use on different patients; and direct-care employees hired despite having disqualifying criminal records,” Cheves reports.

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At Hillcreek, 3116 Breckenridge Lane, “Residents complained that staff did not check on them overnight, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., leaving them ‘humiliated’ and ‘feeling dirty’ in soiled pajamas and sheets because nobody responded to their calls for assistance, inspectors wrote. A resident who fell in his unheated room the day after Christmas lay uncovered on the floor for more than three hours until he finally was discovered, inspectors wrote. Emergency medical workers described his skin as ‘freezing cold.’ He died 10 days later at the hospital of hypothermia, they wrote.”

The reports say residents and staff told inspectors they were scared by mice and rats scurrying through parts of Hillcreek, “including bedrooms and on a resident’s bed, and by hearing them skitter and shuffle on the floors,” and one resident required medical care after a rat bit his thumb, Cheves reports. Inspectors found rodent feces near a nurse’s station, and one rat was so familiar that housekeeping staff gave him a nickname, “Ben,” inspectors reported. One nurse “stated the rats were ‘huge’ and as big as cats,” inspectors wrote.

“Hillcreek, which already had a history of critical state inspections, has been hit with about a dozen negligence or wrongful death lawsuits filed by residents’ families since 2021. It is rated with one star, or ‘much below average,’ on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website,” Cheves reports.

“At St. Matthews, inspectors cited abuse of residents, including ‘a severely cognitively impaired’ female resident whom police determined to have been sexually assaulted at the facility, and a resident who said she or he was hit by an employee but whose assault allegation was not reported up the chain of command, as required. As at Hillcreek, inspectors said St. Matthews used blood-testing equipment on different patients without sanitizing it, risking the spread of infectious diseases and blood-borne pathogens, and it hired direct-care employees despite ‘disqualifying events’ in their past, such as a social services assistant with a conviction for physical harassment.”

Exceptional Living Centers President Tom Watts declined to comment to the Herald-Leader, as did the company’s lawyers. The firm continues to operate these facilities listed on its website: Bluegrass Senior Living in Somerset, Clifton Oaks Care Center in Louisville, Green Hill Rehabilitation and Care in Greensburg, Lyndon Woods Rehabilitation and Care in Lyndon, Stanford Care and Rehabilitation, Frankfort Care and Rehabilitation, and Vanceburg Rehabilitation and Care.