The COVID Quarantine Center has brought millions to some Florida nursing homes

The COVID Quarantine Center has brought millions to some Florida nursing homes

On May 8, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the state’s latest tools to combat viruses that attack the elderly and vulnerable people almost exclusively at the time.

“This is a safe place to exclusively treat stable COVID-positive patients living in other long-term care facilities,” said the governor, outside Jacksonville’s Dolphin Point, where a 146-bed nursing home was first designated in the state. Said it became a COVID quarantine center. ..

In the coming months, Florida will add 22 additional nursing homes to the COVID Isolation Center map. The facility was contracted by the State Hospital Authority (AHCA) to accommodate older people who tested positive for COVID-19. According to the state, the center’s purpose was to “stop the spread of the virus” in long-term care facilities.

“I think it was very effective in separating the clusters and preventing them from spreading,” Governor Desantis said at the time.

Almost a year later, I also found that the program wasn’t cheap.

According to AHCA, 23 nursing homes have been paid at least $ 51 million in state and federal reimbursement to function as Florida’s COVID quarantine center for about four to six months. About half of the centers received at least $ 1 million in transactions that ended in October last year.

Records show that Dolphin Point was not only the first quarantine center in the state, but also the most repayment from the government. According to AHCA, the facility received over $ 7.8 million in state and federal repayments to function as a quarantine center.

“It’s a lot of coins. $ 7.8 million is a lot of money for a nursing home,” said Brian Lee, a former Florida ombudsman and active senior advocate. He is also an outspoken critic of the state’s quarantine center program.

“I don’t know what was special in those homes. I still don’t know what was special or what was different. It’s as if they built these isolation centers and monetized these nursing homes. It looks like it’s going to be an incentive to subsidize or support, or at least a financial incentive, “says Lee.

Under the state contract, in addition to the usual Medicaid reimbursement fee, which typically ranges from $ 200 to $ 300 per day, the Florida COVID Quarantine Center is paid an additional $ 375 per patient per day. It is clear that there is.

Empty beds were no exception.

“Paying for non-services on-site is pretty shocking,” said Lee.

We learned that some was paid even after the last COVID patient left.

For example, according to a state contract with Dolphin Point, the facility was reimbursed for the normal Medicaid rate for four months after the last COVID patient was discharged from the center under the state contract in October.

“The contract was 146 beds, but the state paid very few months to book all 146 beds,” said Clear Choice Health Care, a group that manages Dolphin Pointe and two other nursing homes that acted as quarantines. The owner, Geoff Fraser, said. Florida center last year.

Fraser declined the request for a video interview, but emailed him $ 7.8 million in reimbursement for the COVID quarantine center, which “seems possible given the time frame and duration” that the facility lasted for about six months. He said he had reported.

Fraser said additional payments are higher, such as “marked-up” PPE costs and staff wages that “must almost double just to try to attract staff in such a short period of time.” He explained that it helped cover the cost of care.

It is not clear how many patients were treated by either Dolphin Point or the state’s 23 former COVID quarantine centers. The AHCA only says that 4,047 people were taken care of at quarantine centers throughout the state. Despite repeated requests, AHCA did not classify patient numbers by institution. It also does not elaborate on how often the facility is paid for empty beds or how long patients stay in the center. However, if a total of 4,047 people were serviced by the quarantine center last year, each patient would cost an average of at least $ 12,600 in taxpayers.

“The high cost of long-term care doesn’t shock the number,” said Eric Carlson, a lawyer for advocacy group Justice For Aging. He says it’s not the money that stands out, but the facilities that have invested in the crisis here in Florida and across the country.

“The provider who enrolls in such a program is not Creme de la Creme,” he said of a similar program he saw across the country.

Here in Florida, some of the quarantine centers that received the most money to repay also had a suspicious history. Both Oakbridge Heathcare in Lakeland and rural rehab on the west coast of Florida range from adequacy of care to lack of proper COVID infection control, as described in last year’s countryside inspection report. There is a history of problems. Both were on the state’s nursing home watch list when the state added them to the map of the COVID Quarantine Center.

Records show that each facility has received well over $ 4 million in repayments to function as a quarantine center.

Their parent company, Consulate Healthcare, did not respond to our request for comment.

Recent inspection reports also reveal that some of these former state quarantine centers, such as Dolphin Point, are still flagged as problematic. In March, state inspectors cited the facility for lack of proper supervision and staff capacity issues, putting residents at “imminent risk,” according to inspectors. According to recent inspection reports, these issues have since been fixed.

“Even after these designations, it just shows that the industry continues to ripen with problems, staffing problems, shortages and fines,” Lee said.

We are not familiar with the state’s plans to revive the COVID quarantine center. When asked if the facility would sign on to the state quarantine center again, Fraser replied in an email to the Dolphin Point management company: I think this was a good use of the taxpayer’s dollar and helped save many lives, “he said. A spokesperson for AHCA said: “These facilities and their staff have played an important role in protecting the well-being of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens.

Below is a graph that reflects the COVID quarantine payments made to the Florida Hospital Authority facility contracted to function as a COVID quarantine facility. According to AHCA, this table reflects the total amount of COVID-19 quarantine payments made to each facility since April 2020.

Ew Scripps, 2021

Source: AHCA

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