RIDOH and Attorney General Act to Safeguard Continuity of Care at Pawtucket Falls Nursing Home
RIDOH & Attorney General successfully petition court for facility to enter receivership and ensure nursing home operates as a safe facility for residents and a stable workplace for workers
Today, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, announced that a Superior Court judge has ordered that a receiver assume control of Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center, following the filing of a Petition for Court-Appointed Receiver by RIDOH and the Attorney General.
At a hearing on May 15, 2023, Superior Court Justice Brian Stern appointed attorney Mark Russo as receiver of the facility.
Today’s legal action comes after months of regulatory action by RIDOH related to health and safety concerns at the nursing home. By petitioning the court to appoint a receiver, RIDOH and the Attorney General seek to safeguard residents by ensuring that they continue to receive skilled nursing facility level of care. Pawtucket Falls has assented to the Petition.
Under Rhode Island law, the State may petition a court for receivership of a nursing home under certain circumstances, such as when the management of a facility leads to financial or patient safety concerns. When a facility enters into receivership, its management is assumed by a court-appointed receiver, who assumes control of the operational and financial management of the facility, independent from its existing management.
The receivership will provide additional court oversight and control over the facility. The RIDOH has been working closely with a temporary manager at the nursing facility to see that services continue uninterrupted. At this time, there is no indication that Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center intends to close.
“Over the past seven months, a pattern of health and safety issues has emerged at Pawtucket Falls. We have tried to help the facility stabilize and create a secure environment for the people who call Pawtucket Falls home. However, in the interest of resident safety, receivership is necessary at this time,” Dr. Bandy said. “The residents, families, and employees of Pawtucket Falls deserve better. While it is unfortunate that we have arrived here, receivership is now a step in the right direction. It means more accountability from the licensee, and it means that the facility will have more structure and oversight to create a healthier and safer place for residents to live.”
“Today’s action follows a series of steps by RIDOH to address alleged operational and financial concerns at the facility that ultimately impact some of the most vulnerable among us. This Office’s legal efforts in this situation support the important regulatory role that RIDOH plays in overseeing nursing home safety in Rhode Island. Moreover, in its role as the State’s health care advocate, this Office also has a responsibility to bring action when necessary to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable Rhode Islanders.” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “Rhode Islanders should feel confident that my Office and RIDOH are working to ensure that the facility is kept safe for its residents and stable for its workers.”
Pawtucket Falls Healthcare Center is a nursing home with roughly 80 residents and 154 beds. In October 2022, in response to a complaint, RIDOH conducted an unannounced inspection at Pawtucket Falls. Since that time, RIDOH conducted 11 surveys and inspections at the facility.
As a result of a number of deficiencies, RIDOH issued Compliance Orders to the facility in February 2023 and in April 2023. Among other measures, the Compliance Order issued by RIDOH on February 8, 2023, imposed a freeze on new admissions to the facility and required the facility to bring on an independent monitor to oversee the quality of care. An Amended Compliance Order on April 7, 2023, required the facility to bring on a RIDOH-approved temporary manager to direct operations, to ensure the facility was maintaining compliance with all regulatory requirements. These measures did result in some improvements in the quality of patient care at the facility, but concerns about the long-term stability of the nursing home’s operations prompted the petition for receivership.
When a facility enters into receivership, a court-appointed receiver assumes management, acting as an independent party who controls the operations and financial control of the facility This receiver will be directly accountable to the judge for the work being done to keep residents healthy and safe. The receiver will submit a receivership plan to a judge and report regularly to that judge. Receivership is funded by the existing owners of the nursing home.
RIDOH has been working with Rhode Island’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman on this issue and families with questions about this matter are encouraged to contact their office at 401-785-3340. Rhode Island’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates on behalf of residents in care facilities, listening to their concerns and taking action to protect their rights.