Center could lose funding

The Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa stands to lose its Medicaid funding for failing to comply with federal standards outlined by the state health department during an investigation conducted last year.

The state-run hospital, which houses 322 developmentally disabled adults, is at risk of losing certification and Medicaid funding after the California Department of Public Health last year found deficiencies involving patient care identified as "immediate jeopardy situations," according to a news release.

The department also found two other state hospitals in California — the Porterville Developmental Center in Porterville and the Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona — out of compliance.

The health department "conducted state complaint investigations and federal recertification surveys at these facilities, documenting deficient practices and chronic systems failures in providing patient care," the release stated.

In addition to providing housing and medical services, developmental centers such as Fairview provide training and treatment for disabled residents to increase their independence and functioning skills.

The California Department of Developmental Services, or DDS, operates the centers and the health department licenses and certifies them.

Facilities are required to meet certain conditions to qualify for Medicaid, said Corey Egel, a representative for the California Department of Public Health.

The potential loss of Medicaid funding would affect 188 residents — more than half of Fairview's patient population, said DDS spokeswoman Nancy Lungren.

Fairview was found deficient in areas related to staffing and patient safety during its May evaluation.

When the health department evaluated again in September, it found the hospital noncompliant with regards to active treatment and healthcare services, Egel said.

He declined to elaborate on either evaluation or give specifics related to the deficiencies.

However, in a July report, the state auditor's office reviewed resident safety at each of the four state hospitals DDS operates and found several problems that "put residents at risk" at the Fairview facility.

The review found that healthcare staff did not always quickly notify the department's law enforcement operation, the Office of Protective Services, or OPS, about abuse allegations and that enforcement personnel did not consistently follow procedures for investigating those allegations.

"Specifically, OPS often failed to collect written declarations from suspects and witnesses, take photographs of crime scenes or alleged victims, and attempt to interview alleged victims, particularly residents said to be nonverbal," Doug Cordinor, the chief deputy state auditor, wrote in a letter attached to the auditor's report.

He highlighted how frequent turnover in OPS management contributed to the lack of action in addressing what he called "longstanding problems."

The letter also criticizes the Department of Public Health for not promptly following up on "certification surveys and performing state licensing surveys on time, if at all."

"Because Public Health has not prepared required annual reports regarding its enforcement activities, the effectiveness of these activities on maintaining quality of care in healthcare facilities, including the developmental centers, remains uncertain," he wrote.

Each facility has appealed the findings and remains fully operational, Lungren said.

DDS is working with the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that administers Medicaid funds, to determine how to come into compliance with requirements before funding is pulled, she said.

"The department is committed to making the necessary improvements that ensure appropriate and safe services at these facilities," Lungren added.

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