ARIZONA — Authorities have charged Nathan Sutherland, 36, a licensed practical nurse, with sexual assault and abuse related to a case where a resident gave birth in December. 

Officials told investigators they did not know the Hacienda HealthCare resident, 29, was pregnant. She has been at the facility for decades, with limited movements, and cannot speak.

Investigators collected DNA from men who worked at the center and arrested Sutherland Jan. 23. He was booked into a Maricopa County jail on suspicion of sexual assault and vulnerable-adult abuse.

Sutherland underwent an “extensive” background check when he began work in 2012, Hacienda officials said. He was fired immediately after his arrest.

The attorney for the woman’s family, John Michaels, said the family was aware of the arrest but declined to comment. Earlier in January, he said the family was disappointed Hacienda hadn’t apologized. 

Hacienda CEO Bill Timmons resigned in early January.


Gifts honor deceased dad

FLORIDA — A former television producer bought Christmas gifts for more than 100 residents to honor her recently deceased father, according to a local television report.

Danny H. Gooden, 68, a Vietnam War veteran and repairman for Southern Bell, died in June. Britney Gooden said the plan was a way to honor him. She started shopping for a few seniors at Santa Rosa Health and Rehabilitation Center in Milton, where she volunteered in high school.

“Then one turned into 10, that turned into 15, turned into 20 and now we are where we are,” she told WKRG News 5. With help from family and friends, she ultimately adopted 104 residents for the program “Be a Santa for a Senior” in her father’s honor. 

Theft uncovers bigger plot

LOUISIANA — Two employees at a Lake Charles nursing home are accused of taking more than $57,000 from resident funds.

Andrea V. Johnson, 38, purchased items such as DVDs and gift cards with money from residents’ accounts and returned them to receive cash, according to the complaint from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office. Johnson allegedly took around $13,000 over a year from about 21 residents, authorities said. She faced theft charges and 21 counts of exploitation of the infirmed at press time.

During the Johnson investigation, it was then discovered that the nursing home’s office manager, Katherine M. Coyle, 42, of Lake Charles, also allegedly filed fraudulent requests for cash from accounts, for a total of $44,000 from 30 residents. She faces charges of theft over $25,000 and 30 counts of exploitation of the infirmed. 

Gov: Vendors shorted $5M

WEST VIRGINIA — The Veterans Nursing Home in Clarksburg owed more than $5 million to vendors by the end of 2018, the governor’s office said in late December.

The facility is managed by the state Department of Veterans Assistance, with Gov. Jim Justice (R) saying the home had millions in unpaid invoices dating from 2013.

The state auditor’s office discovered the problem.

“Secretary (Dennis) Davis reported this to my office and a team was assembled to immediately correct the problems,” Justice said in a statement. He added that new leadership had been appointed including a new chief financial officer who began in mid-December. 

“Arrangements were made to pay crucial vendors to ensure the 110 veterans in the home are protected and cared for in the most efficient manner,” he added. The problem stemmed from the implementation of the OASIS accounting system and dates back to 2013, Justice said.

Skyline SNFs to close

NEBRASKA — Four nursing and assisted living facilities taken over by the state last year were expected to close, according to local reports. 

The skilled nursing facilities of Wausa Care and Rehabilitation Center in Wausa and Sorensen Care and Rehabilitation Center in Omaha, and the assisted living and SNF facilities of Sidney Care and Rehabilitation Center in Sidney, were all expected to close, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The four facilities were among the 21 nursing homes and 10 assisted living sites the state took over in March due to problems for the owner, Cottonwood Health, also known as Skyline.

After the centers went into receivership, Klaasmeyer and Associates was hired by the state to manage them, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. But Klaasmeyer asked for permission to close the facilities, citing low resident numbers and poor financial performance. Wausa Care has averaged 15 residents on a daily basis, according to court records.

Klaasmeyer would be responsible for moving residents, and Health and Human Services would monitor the process, the newspaper reported.

Medicaid help requested

KANSAS — In her first proposed budget, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) requested 313 additional state workers for a Medicaid application center in Topeka.

The KanCare Clearinghouse in Topeka was established by previous Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and contracted to be run by a company called Maximus.

Since then, a backlog of Medicaid applications has skyrocketed into the thousands, resulting in nursing homes waiting months to years for reimbursement.

 “It’s just been a cluster-mess for everybody,” Cindy Luxem, the president and CEO of the Kansas Health Care Association, told the Kansas City Star.

Governor addresses funding

SOUTH DAKOTA — In her first inaugural address, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) was slated to discuss the crisis of funding for South Dakota nursing homes and how it has led to closures.

Three nursing homes in the state have closed over the past three years, with two more slated to cease next month.

Additionally, 17 former Golden Living Centers are facing financial challenges and are being operated by a state-approved receivership created after the New Jersey firm running the homes went bankrupt last year.

South Dakota’s Medicaid rate pays for care for around 55% of patients in the states 110 nursing homes, officials said. The state has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the country, with facilities losing around $35 a day for each Medicaid beneficiary. This has resulted in a $42 million overall annual funding shortfall for long-term care facilities. 

“If a big population in those nursing homes is on Medicaid, they’re losing money every day their doors are open,” Noem said in an interview with WNAX Radio 570. “They can’t recruit nurses and aides and doctors and professionals into those communities and pay them enough to be competitive.”


Alternatives draining SNFs

OREGON  — Senior living in Oregon is gaining in popularity at the expense of skilled nursing facilities, according to a recently released report.

“Oregon has the lowest nursing facility occupancy rate [67%] among all states, reflecting the state’s ongoing commitment to community-based long-term care options, such as assisted living, adult foster care, residential care, and memory care,” wrote the Oregon State University College of Health and Human Sciences authors in “The State of Nursing Facilities in Oregon.” 

The population of those age 75 or older in Oregon has increased over the past 18 years, but the number of nursing homes has remained the same and the number of nursing home beds has decreased by 13% over 18 years.