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home : news : news Sunday, December 17, 2017

10/26/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Community Care barred from training home health care aides

By Jeremy Huss
Staff writer

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals in February barred Community Care Inc. (CCI) of DeWitt from training or evaluating home health care aides for two years after a recertification survey found the agency was violating standards of care and Medicare conditions of participation, state records show.

During a two-day survey visit completed Feb. 20, inspectors found CCI was not in compliance with federal regulations regarding home health care aides and comprehensive patient assessments and prohibited CCI from training home health aides through Feb. 19, 2015.

As a result, CCI entered into a contract with Eastern Iowa Community College to provide training, skills competency evaluations and documentation for home health aides in order to maintain regulatory compliance.

CCI also was cited for hiring a new employee who was allowed to provide patient care without completing a background check for criminal history, child abuse and dependent adult abuse within the required 30 days prior to a new hire and for violating regulations regarding medication disposal and coordination of patient services, among others.

State records show CCI was cited and fined by the Department of Inspections and Appeals six times in 2013 for various regulatory violations.

A $500 fine was levied Jan. 3 for failure to report two more peer-to-peer aggressions causing injury within 30 days.

Another $500 fine was issued Jan. 23 for failure to consistently implement behavior programs.

Specifically, the inspection found staff were not consistently using a "smiley card" intended to provide positive reinforcement for a client who averaged more than 150 incidents of physical aggression per month.

CCI was fined $1,500 Feb. 15 for failure to ensure allegations of mistreatment, neglect or abuse are reported immediately to the administrator or other officials, specifically for failing to report incidents of inappropriate sexual contact between clients.

CCI was fined $1,500 March 6 for failure to report multiple incidents in which a client put his hands down the pants of other clients.

The care provider again was fined $1,500 July 25 for failure to report multiple client elopement events.

CCI was fined a total of $2,500 Sept. 17 for failure to have clear and complete directives to address client elopement incidents and for failure to have sufficient direct staff to manage and supervise clients.

The lack of sufficient supervision related to incidents that included a client starting to choke after eating paper, a client urinating on the floor of another client's pod and incidents of physical aggression.

There are no indications in the Department of Inspections and Appeals records the regulatory violations and fines are related to an ongoing investigation of Medicaid billing fraud at CCI.

CCI Oct. 16 fired seven top-level staff members as a result of the state and federal investigation, including chief executive officer Bill Bonnes, chief operating officer Angela Ganzer-Bovitz, chief financial officer Jeff Morehead, human resources director Gery Oestern, executive assistant Diane Mullin and the administrator and assistant for its Marion County facility.

Representatives of the United States Attorney General's office and the United States Postal Inspection Service, believed to be involved in the investigation, told The Observer Oct. 18 they were unable to discuss the matter or to confirm the investigation is taking place.

However, CCI board president Dave Pillers acknowledged in an Oct. 17 press release the mental health and disability services provider was facing allegations of Medicaid billing fraud and was under investigation, and an Iowa Department of Human Services spokesperson said 35 percent of CCI's Medicaid payments temporarily have been suspended due to a "credible allegation" of fraud.

In order to continue providing services to the 339 clients CCI serves in Clinton and other Iowa counties, the non-profit has entered into an agreement with the Iowa Department of Human Services through which CCI hired third-party management firm The Columbus Group of King of Prussia, Pa., to oversee all operations, including finance and health care delivery.

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