SNF operated by troubled chain faces $100,000 fine after resident's death

A Massachusetts nursing home whose operator has been repeatedly accused of poor care by the state and residents' families now faces fines of up to $100,000 in the death of a former resident.

Mary Meuse, 83, was dropped from a mechanical lift at Woodbriar Health Center in Wilmington, MA, on Christmas Day, and broke her legs. She died on December 27. State investigators discovered that Woodbriar staff knew of Meuse's condition soon after the incident but did not tell her or her family for 24 hours.

Woodbriar faces penalties of $250 to $3,000 per day in Meuse's death, which would approach $100,000 total if the fines start from Christmas Day. The facility also made headlines last month for a scabies outbreak in its dementia unit.

In a statement to the Boston Globe, a spokesman for Woodbriar's owner, Synergy Health Centers, said Meuse being dropped from the lift is “an anomaly, [but] it is nonetheless unacceptable.”

“While the possibility of human error can never be eliminated in any healthcare setting, Woodbriar remains a safe and caring skilled nursing facility that delivers high-quality care,” the statement reads.

Synergy has recently received criticism of its care, and prompted state officials to propose rules that would strengthen oversight of the nursing home industry, and how facilities are sold and closed. The company had no track record of operating nursing homes before buying 11 facilities in Massachusetts over the past three years. Those facilities have since been issued dozens of citations for patient safety and care violations.