According to the website Nursing Home Inspect, multiple nursing homes located throughout the States of Georgia and South Carolina lead the country in the amount of fines paid for violations of regulations that govern their operation. Nursing homes are inspected periodically by regulators (sometimes called “surveyors”) as a matter of routine. Additionally, when the Government receives a complaint from a family member about a nursing home, the facility will be inspected as part of the Government’s investigation of the complaint. If it is determined that the nursing home failed to comply with regulations that govern their operation, they are issued what are known as “deficiencies.” Simply stated, these are citations for failing to follow the rules.
Nursing Home Inspect was designed to make it easier for consumers to do research online and compare nursing homes based upon the number of deficiencies and penalties that were issued against them during the past 3 years. A non-profit investigative news organization known as ProPublica continually updates the information on the website. When nursing homes are repeatedly cited for deficiencies, they can face penalties, including fines. According to Nursing Home Inspect, the most fined nursing home in America over the past 3 years is Unihealth Post-Acute Care – North Augusta, a nursing home located in North Augusta, South Carolina. That facility paid a total of $737,000 in fines over the past 3 years. The second most fined nursing home in America is Cobb Healthcare Center, located in Comer, Georgia. That facility paid a total of $592,000 in fines over the past 3 years. Sadly, of the 20 most fined nursing homes in America during this time period, 3 were located in the State of Georgia. In addition to Cobb Healthcare Center, a nursing home known as Willowbrooke Court at Lanier Village Estates in Gainesville, Georgia and a nursing home known as Bethany Nursing Center of Vidalia in Vidalia, Georgia were among the 20 most fined nursing homes. Two nursing homes located in the State of South Carolina were also in the top 20, Unihealth Post-Acute Care – North Augusta and Heartland of Columbia Rehab. and Nursing Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
Not coincidentally, the most fined nursing home in America over the past 3 years, Unihealth Post-Acute Care – North Augusta, was also designated as a “Special Focus Facility,” which is a nursing home cited for having a history of serious quality issues. Of the 20 nursing homes across the U.S. listed as having the most serious deficiencies, 5 of those facilities are located in South Carolina. In addition to Unihealth Post-Acute Care – North Augusta, the other South Carolina nursing homes cited were Magnolia Manor – Columbia in Columbia, Brookeview Healthcare Center in Gaffney, Unihealth Post-Acute Care – Aiken in Aiken, and Camp Care in Inman, South Carolina.
Virtually all nursing homes have been cited for some deficiencies, so an isolated deficiency alone is not necessarily an indication that a home is substandard. However, when a nursing home is cited repeatedly for multiple deficiencies, that should be a red flag to consumers and a reason to investigate the facility more closely. Citations related to healthcare issues, such as pressure sores (bedsores), falls, malnutrition, dehydration, and citations for inadequate staffing should be of greatest concern to consumers, because such deficiencies can lead to serious illnesses, injuries and even death.
If you have a complaint about how a family member has been treated in a nursing home, you should report it to the appropriate state agency. Many state agencies have local representatives known as long-term care ombudsmen, who are authorized to advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. If you believe a family member has suffered a serious injury or died as a result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you should contact an experienced, nursing home litigation attorney. For helpful tips on how to recognize signs of elder abuse or neglect, go to the Nursing Home Resource Center.