Geriatric Treatment Center in Williamsburg Could Lose Federal Funding Due to Care Issues

The 150-bed Hancock Geriatric Treatment Center at Williamsburg's Eastern State Hospital, which opened in 2008, was intended to provide top quality care for mentally ill senior citizens. Shortly after it opened, a patient committed suicide. Hospital officials pledged to make the facility safer. Today, safety problems persist and patients continue to suffer injuries. On Sunday, the federal government announced plans to terminate the center's Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The state secretary of health and human services said that the decision presents "a potential fiscal issue for the Commonwealth if we do not achieve recertification within the next thirty days and we are taking every step possible to ensure that this is achieved."  Inspection reports reveal that Medicare gave the center received one star for its health conditions ranking it "much below average."

In his report, inspector G. Douglas Bevelacqua said the hospital lacks a risk management plan and failed to follow through with pledges to increase staff supervision. The hospital's director had to be removed from his position earlier this year after he failed to heed advice from state officials. The facility lacked proper supervision and monitoring to prevent patient falls and abuse.

In one case, the staff documented that a resident was falling down repeatedly because she would not ask for help. They developed a care plan that called for staff to remind her to ask for help. In the four weeks following that care plan, she fell three more times and suffered a head injury. From January to mid-May, investigators found that 80 percent of the patients in the center experienced at least one "event" such as an injury, assault or fall.

Virginia has 30 days to correct the problems before they lose their federal funding; officials are consulting with geriatric experts in hope that they can resolve the issues within that time and regain federal certification to avoid losing any of the $1.14 million the state receives in monthly support. For more, read the story.


Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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