State News for August 2017

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Nashua Fire officials credited staff and automatic sprinklers for reducing damage and potential casualties.
Nashua Fire officials credited staff and automatic sprinklers for reducing damage and potential casualties.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Skilled nursing facility workers credited with saving lives in fire that injures one, displays staff readiness

Two skilled nursing employees were credited with rushing into “heavy smoke conditions” and pulling two occupants to safety at Courville at Nashua on July 2.

“They were two maintenance or housekeeping guys who were here on a special project. They just saw the smoke, ran into the room, got the residents, the gentlemen out of the room. It just worked perfectly,” Courville Company President and CEO Luanne Rogers told television station WMUR. The 100-bed Courville at Nashua is part of Courville Communities.

The fire was reported at 2 a.m. and was contained to a second-floor room with the help of sprinklers, local reports said. One resident was taken to an area hospital for possible smoke inhalation, but he was expected to recover.

Neither rescuer wished to be identified, local officials said. Rogers credited preparation and dedicated staff for avoiding tragedy, telling the station she had “the best staff on the planet.” 

“The staff did everything they were supposed to do,” Rogers told The Boston Herald. 

“It's one of the blessings of living in New Hampshire: If something happens, your peers step up.”

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

NORTHEAST

Old county facility to close

New York — A Fulton nursing center once owned by Oswego County will close in the fall after residents are relocated.

The county had sold what was then the Andrew Michaud Nursing Home to St. Luke Health Services in 2005 for nearly $1 million, but the not-for-profit said it had an operating loss of more than $500,000 last year, according to local news outlet The Post-Standard.

The facility's struggles mirror those of other county-run operations in the state, according to the newspaper.

The 113 employees working at Michaud Residential Health Services will be given opportunities to apply for other positions, St. Luke Health Services officials said.

Student at SNF for 10 days

Maine — A medical student completed a 10-day stay at a nursing home in Maine in June, simulating the experience of an 85-year-old who had a stroke.

The stint, part of University of New England's “Learning by Living,” allowed Sarae Sager to stay in St. Andre's Health Care Facility. She was bathed, moved to different floors, put on a medication schedule and ate pureed food, she told local television station WCSH. 

Sager said she gained an appreciation and understanding of skilled nursing facility residents. She also hopes to publish a piece on her experience in a medical journal.

“When they come to see me as a physician in the future, I can really be sensitive to what they're going through and what they need,” she said.

More than 50 UNE medical students have completed the “Learning by Living” program in the past decade, the station reported.

SOUTHEAST

Medicaid waiver sought

Kentucky — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) submitted a plan in July that would eliminate a federal phase-in period for a Medicaid work requirement. 

The waiver would allow the state to make able-bodied adults without dependents start working at least 20 hours per week to qualify for Medicaid coverage immediately. The original proposal would have required beneficiaries to work at least five hours a week and increase to 20 by the 12-month mark.

Bevin said the changes would save the state $2.4 billion. 

The Obama administration had opposed work requirements for Medicaid, but the Trump administration is for them, along with giving states more flexibility. At production deadline, the waiver was expected to be approved.

Additionally, Kentucky is requiring that everyone pay a monthly premium, and if a person misses a payment, he or she will be locked out for six months or dropped to a different plan.

Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Maine and Ohio are among states debating work requirement provisions. Nationally, nearly 60% of Medicaid adults are working 40 hours a week without being required to, according to Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

SOUTHWEST

Rule kills ‘right to correct'

Texas — Texas long-term care providers will have a harder time avoiding fines and correcting deficiencies under a new law meant to crack down on repeat offenders.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R) introduced a standalone bill in the spring that would give state officials the ability to levy fines against nursing homes that are repeatedly found with violations without having a chance to correct them first. 

That bill was unable to pass the House on its own, but Schwertner added it as an amendment to an ultimately successful healthcare bill, The Texas Tribune reported. It will take effect in September.

Scott Kibbe, director of government relations for the Texas Health Care Association, told the Tribune that inconsistencies among surveyors can make meeting survey benchmarks difficult. Appealing reported violations can present cash-strapped providers with another financial burden, he added.