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"List includes Pomona nursing home"

The Press–Enterprise

By Lora Hines
10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The federal agency that oversees nursing homes released its complete list of 131 poorly performing nursing homes Tuesday, including a troubled Pomona facility that is set to lose federal funding next week.

Ember Health Care in Pomona is one of six California nursing homes on the list that have histories of serious quality problems, said Kerry Weems, acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

A seventh California facility, Yuba City Care Center, has improved since it was named a poor performer in a partial list released in November.

None of the Inland area's estimated 100 nursing homes were listed.

Ember Health Care has been a poorly performing nursing home nearly two years, according to Medicare and Medicaid's list.

Carmen Hernandez, Ember Health Care's administrator, on Tuesday would not discuss the nursing home's identification as a poorly run facility.

She also would not discuss Medicare and Medicaid's decision to terminate the nursing home's funding on Tuesday.

Ember Health is owned by Integrated Nursing and Rehab Care Inc., which bought it at a July auction from Pleasant Care Corp. Integrated Nursing also purchased Ember Care Health Center in Perris.

Pleasant Care Corp., once the state's second-largest nursing home corporation, also sold Pleasant Care Convalescent in Riverside and Pleasant Care Convalescent of Corona.

Poorly performing facilities are in a special oversight program designed to provide extra enforcement to homes with continuous problems.

The list is to be updated quarterly, Weems said.

"This is the latest in a series of steps we will be taking to improve quality and oversight in nursing homes," he said. "We are issuing more information on (poorly run) facilities to better equip beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to make informed decisions and stimulate robust improvements in nursing homes not having improved their quality of care."

Ember Health care had been scheduled to lose its federal funding in December, but was granted a two-month extension. Residents will have 30 days to find new facilities if funding is terminated.

"Cutting off federal funds usually puts a nursing home out of business," said Medicare and Medicaid spokesman Jack Cheevers in a written statement. "We will continue to pay for current patients until they're transferred to a new facility."

The nursing home has 231 beds. Hernandez wouldn't say how many people were there Tuesday.

Medicare and Medicaid's list comprises nursing homes that have failed to meet federal quality standards, based on the number and severity of deficiencies found during the facilities' last three annual inspections.

Nursing homes that don't improve could lose Medicare and Medicaid funding, which most facilities rely upon to operate.

In November, Medicare and Medicaid released an abbreviated list of 54 poorly run nursing homes that included Yuba City Care Center.

On Tuesday, consumer advocates and industry representatives were critical of the new list. Last week, Medicare and Medicaid said more than 70 percent of Inland nursing homes failed federal standards regarding restraint use or bed-sore prevention.

"What advice are they giving consumers?" said Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. "I don't know what the value in this list is."