Troubled Sonoma Developmental Center won't seek federal patient money
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.
The Sonoma Developmental Center has given up seek federal funding for 112 seriously disabled patients amid ongoing investigations into problems at the troubled facility, including instances of patient abuse.
The loss amounts to $1.37 million per month that helped cover treatment costs for patients in the center's intermediate care unit — which houses more than half of the center's total population of 517.
That money will now come from the state's general fund, officials announced Friday.
The 112 patients affected by the action will continue to receive treatment at the facility, Nancy Lungren, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Developmental Services, said Friday.
She said some of the patients may be moved to other areas of the facility while officials take steps to bring the intermediate care unit into compliance with state and federal regulations.
The average annual cost of treating a patient at the center is $300,000. The federal Medicaid program, which is administered in California through Medi-Cal, covers as much as 50 percent of the cost for patients who qualify.
Problems at the Eldridge facility earlier forced the ouster of the center's executive director and clinical director, and led to several staff members being disciplined or fired.
The California Department of Public Health informed interim director Patricia Flannery in December that they were planning to terminate the facility's federal funding after an annual recertification survey and licensing review revealed 57 deficiencies, including four cases of “immediate jeopardy” to patient health and safety.
The immediate threats included instances of patients being abused by staff or one another, a staff member exposing himself and allowing a patient to ingest food against medical advice.
Terri Delgadillo, director of the state's Department of Developmental Services, announced Friday that the agency was voluntarily terminating the Medicaid certification of four of the ten residential units at the Sonoma center's intermediate care facility.
The four units are Corcoran, Lathrop, Bemis and Smith. As each of the withdrawn units is recertified as being in full compliance with Medicaid requirements, the federal share of cost for the facility will be proportionally restored.
In a Jan. 17 letter to Dr. James Farris, consortium administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Delgadillo wrote that addressing problems in those units will “take additional time.”
The remaining six units will continue to be certified and operate while corrections are made in a federally-approved performance improvement plan, according to a spokesman for the state public health department.
Delgadillo announced Friday that a national search is under way for a new executive director at the Sonoma center and that she has established a “Corrective Action and Quality Assurance Team,” consisting of state and national experts to implement immediate and ongoing improvements.
The department previously brought in CHP Assistant Chief Frank Parrish to assume control of the center's police force until a new commander is hired.
(You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @deadlinederek.)
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