Massive Nursing Home Penalties Eluding Consumer Detection

Massive Nursing Home Penalties Eluding Consumer Detection

A Fresno nursing home was fined more than $900,000 in 2018 for poor patient care, but consumers have been hard-pressed to find any public record of the massive penalty or many other big fines.

The inspection report painted a bleak picture of life inside Northpointe Healthcare Centre in Fresno: Residents grimaced in pain from bedsores. Staff told inspectors they were stretched so thin they sometimes skipped treatments and failed to distribute medications. One resident was hospitalized with sepsis after missing four doses of an antibiotic, the report stated.

After multiple visits in early 2018, state inspectors slapped the 99-bed facility with an “immediate jeopardy” deficiency, the type reserved for the most egregious incidents in nursing homes. Then the federal government levied a massive fine: $912,404, the largest penalty given to any California nursing home in at least a decade, according to a CalMatters analysis of federal data.

For years, consumers had little way of knowing that fine even existed.

As COVID-19 ravaged nursing homes across the country — killing more than 9,300 residents in California, and sickening thousands more — elder care advocates, consumers and policymakers have cried out for greater transparency and accountability.

But state and federal systems responsible for overseeing nursing homes often fail to publicize critical information, a CalMatters investigation has found. Government websites that promise basic information about nursing home quality can actually obscure it, lulling consumers into a false sense of security.

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