BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Veterans Home is in danger of losing federal funding if it doesn't correct some staffing problems in a couple of weeks, officials said.
Veterans Home Administrator Melissa Jackson said surveys done this year turned up several deficiencies at the Bennington institution, including failure of medical staff to report medical conditions to physicians, and failing to report abuse in a timely manner.
The home's board of trustees said Wednesday that $12 million is at risk from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That's more than half of the home's budget, according to Michael LeBoeuf, head of the trustee's Finance Committee.
Funding for new patients has already been cut.
"The nursing home would lose approximate $1 million per month. As far as I can see, the nursing home could not sustain that," LeBoeuf said. "I don't know how far we can go."
Deficiencies identified during a May 31 survey remain uncorrected and new deficiencies were found this month, LeBoeuf's report said. The home faces the termination of its provider agreement with Medicare and Medicaid on Sept. 28. The Bennington Banner (bit.ly/Px7lD4) reports that if the funding is terminated, the home would have to find placement for 100 residents covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Moving them would take 30 to 60 days and cost the home an additional $2 million, LeBoeuf said.
"If we're put back into compliance then these horrible letters from CMS will not come to fruition. If we're not found to be in compliance, then this doomsday starts," said outgoing trustee President Laura Corrow. "We've got one more chance, basically, to be brought back into compliance. If that fails, this takes effect and we don't have any repercussions or anything else that we can do."
The Vermont State Employees Association said the deficiencies are the result of insufficient staffing to cover all nursing shifts. VSEA Executive Director Mark Mitchell said the union has been working with administrators to try to fix scheduling issues.
But Vermont Department of Finance and Management Commissioner James Reardon said most of the issues identified were not related to the level of staff.
"All but one of those citations have nothing to do with the level of staff. They have to do with deficiencies based on inaction, or action by the staff member that was present at the facility," he said.