Nursing Homes

In this Oct. 2, 2018, file photo, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., speaks during a television news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Good Samaritan Society’s Idaho Falls Village nursing home location was one of nearly 400 facilities on a recently released secret federal list that flagged nursing homes with ongoing care problems for residents.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publicizes the nursing homes that will receive extra scrutiny for their recurring problems through the Special Focus Facility program. However, the agency does not publish the longer list of locations that qualify for the program but are excluded due to a limited budget.

The most recent list of places that were candidates and participants in the Special Focus Facility program was released by Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania to the Associated Press on Monday. A report issued by the senators argued that while the locations only made up 3 percent of all nursing homes in America, the candidate list was a valuable resource for families choosing between different locations.

“Despite being indistinguishable from participants in terms of their qualifications for enhanced oversight, candidates are not publicly disclosed,” Casey and Toomey stated in their report.

Locations flagged by the program are marked with a yellow warning sign on the federal Nursing Home Compare website and are not given a star ranking.

Nampa’s Wellspring Health & Rehabilitation of Cascadia is the only location in Idaho currently listed as a Special Focus Facility. Three others in the state were listed as candidates in the released report: two additional Cascadia locations in Caldwell and Orofino, Lacrosse Health & Rehabilitation Center in Coeur d’Alene.

Good Samaritan manager Craig Perez said that the results of health inspections done in 2016 and 2017 found issues that led to Good Samaritan’s inclusion. The 2016 report found that the home had placed one resident in “immediate jeopardy” after failing to investigate four allegations of abuse against them.

The most recent safety investigation, however, found no issues at Good Samaritan that held a significant risk of harm to staff or residents. Perez said that Good Samaritan’s overall and health report ratings have improved enough since the candidate list was provided to Casey and Toomey in early May that the facility no longer was a candidate.

“Our inclusion on that list was based on previous years of reports and does not reflect the most recent update,” Perez said.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma told the senators in a letter that federal budget cuts had reduced the size of the nursing home program. The 88 slots now available for special focus is about half the number the program had in 2010.

Verma also said the agency is deciding whether to officially release the list of “candidate” nursing home facilities in the future.

Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.