Cottonwood makes improvements |

Cottonwood makes improvements

Andy Bourelle

Although technically still not in substantial compliance with state and federal regulations, definite improvements have been made at Cottonwood Care Center, a state official said Friday.

“The majority of the problems have been taken care of,” said Richard Panelli, acting chief of the Nevada Bureau of Licensure and Certification. “They’re in a lot better shape than they have been in a long time.”

The Bureau of Licensure conducted another survey this week, finding only minor areas where Cottonwood needed to improve, according to Panelli. The state will provide a statement of deficiencies to Cottonwood next week, to which the facility will have 10 days to respondwith a plan of correction.

If the plan is acceptable, the bureau will recommend to the Federal Healthcare Financing Administration to stop the termination process on Cottonwood’s Medicare license and to lift all sanctions against the facility, including the $3,000-a-day fine Cottonwood has been facing.

Panelli said those would be federal decisions, but he saw no reason why the Healthcare Financing Administration would not follow the state’s recommendations.

When Cottonwood has an acceptable plan of correction for this survey, Panelli said, the Federal Healthcare Administration would consider the facility to be in substantial compliance. For state regulations, the licensure bureau would have to do another unannounced survey.

If the plan of corrections is acceptable, Panelli said the state would issue Cottonwood a provisional license, allowing the Ranchos nursing home to admit up to 100 residents, 25 less than capacity. If Cottonwood has corrected the rest of the deficiencies after the next survey, the state will give the facility its license, allowing it to admit up to the 125-resident capacity.

“Part of what we are doing is trying to make sure they continue to give long-term quality care,” Panelli said, “that this isn’t just a short-term fix.”

Cottonwood failed the first survey by the Nevada Bureau of Licensure and Certification in May while the Carson-Tahoe Hospital ran the facility. Another company, Premier Care, took over administration of the nursing home shortly after. The state acknowledged Cottonwood had made significant improvements by an August follow-up survey, but said the facility still had major deficiencies to take care of before this survey.

“We still have some minor deficiencies,” said David Holmberg, administrator of Cottonwood, “and let me repeat, they are minor deficiencies. They (state officials) are very happy.”