SNF loses Medicare, Medicaid eligibility after not providing enough food to residents

A Missouri nursing home is no longer eligible for federal funding after an inspection this summer found the facility did not provide enough food for its residents, and appears scheduled to close.

Residents of Benchmark Healthcare in Festus, MO, reported being hungry when inspectors visited the facility, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Tuesday. A July report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services noted that Benchmark “failed to ensure a consistent and sufficient amount of food in the facility, including nutritional supplements, to meet the nutritional needs of the residents.”

The facility's walk-in freezers allegedly contained two bags of french fries, six ice cream bars and eight small bowls of what appeared to be ice cream when inspectors visited, according to the report. Two other freezers sat empty.

Surveyors who spoke with Benchmark staff discovered that the facility had not received a food delivery in a month due to not paying a vendor. Some staff members, including the dietary manager, bought residents food using their own money, but they hadn't been able to stock enough food for more than a day or two, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Nursing homes are required to have three days worth of perishable food stocked, along with enough nonperishable food to last a week.

Surveyors also found problems with medication and financial management, the paper said. Benchmark did not correct the citation in time to retain funding.

The facility chose not to appeal the CMS report's findings despite beliefs that it would have been “successful in establishing that at no time was the health, welfare and safety of the residents in jeopardy,” an attorney for Benchmark told the Post-Dispatch. The last resident had moved out by the end of August.