Yukon Kuskokwim Elders Home seeks certification

by Ben Matheson on January 31, 2014

The YK-Delta’s first nursing home opened in October of 2013. Although the need is great, there continue to be empty beds at the home. In the four months since welcoming in residents, it hasn’t achieved the federal certification that’s necessary to be paid by Medicare and Medicaid.

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The home is designed to hold up to 18 residents. But before certification, the most they can hold is 11. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the state are in the middle of another survey to see if the facility passes the approximately 500 standards necessary for certification. Donna Bach is a spokesperson for the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation

“We can’t accept payment for services, we can’t charge any individual who might have Medicaid or Medicare part A, even though they may be eligible under those criteria, we can’t charge for those services, so we won’t be financially viable until we obtain certification,” said Bach.

A spokesperson from Medicare tells KYUK that facilities are not able to bill Medicare retroactively for services provided. The agency declined to interview.

To be fully certified, facilities must pass rigorous inspections and have a perfect record on hundreds of federally mandated standards related to facility procedures and quality of care. Karen Walsh is the program manager for health facilities licensing and certification with the state of Alaska. That agency sends people out to do the survey for the federal government.

“The paperwork for instance, the admission paperwork. There’s just a whole list of policies: like smoking policies and anti policies. There’s a regulation for just about everything. It’s how every facility is run. It’s kind of their outline on how to run a long-term care center,” said Walsh.

Site visitors first came in October, and they noted 17 deficiencies. Upon the second inspection, they were down to five deficiencies in late December. Bach says there is another inspection scheduled soon.

“It’s not a terrible thing it’s actually very routine for there to be findings, but what that makes the team of nurses of medical professionals come together and formulate a plan of corrections of how to fix those deficiencies,” said Bach.

Bach did not release the list of deficiencies to KYUK. She says there is a lot of support from the state and other healthcare organizations through process and that they have good leadership, including the help of Interim Administrator Gerald Hodges.

“A regular person would walk in there and be like everything is fine but when you’re talking the optimal environment of care for a very vulnerable population, you really have to every T crossed and every I dotted. So we’re really lucky to have Jerald Hodges as our administrator there,” said Bach.

YKHC says there are 40 individuals in the area that meet requirements for acceptance into the facility. The 16 million dollar facility was built with financing from the state.

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