Texas state senator wants some nursing homes to lose their license

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A state senator is pushing lawmakers to crack down on Texas nursing homes with a history of abuse and neglect. In August, Senator Charles Schwertner proposed a recommendation to require the state to revoke a nursing home's license if they have certain violations.

At a Sunset Advisory Commission hearing, Senator Schwertner singled out seven of the 1,200 nursing homes in Texas licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services. One of those seven is right here in East Texas.

Eastwood Care and Rehab, also known as Mel-Rose nursing center in Tyler, lost its federal funding and faced a license revocation early this year after an investigation revealed dozens of violations.

“They had over 70 deficiencies before I came and the reason I came was to come in and put a plan in place,” says administrator Robbin Bell.

Bell says the home was in bad shape when she started working there in December of 2013.

“The facility was not clean, bathrooms were not clean, a lot of the toilets and things were broken,” she says.

Bell says they have new owners who are determined to make a change.

“The plan was to come in, put systems in place because there were no systems in place. We brought in policies and procedures and we got people that would work the system,” she says.

Mel-Rose, now owned by Northcreek Healthcare, received a new license in August.

“Right now we have zero deficiencies,” says Bell.

Which means they no longer fall under Senator Charles Schwernter's proposed “three strikes” plan.

“This modification would require DADS to revoke a license of a nursing facility that is found to have a total of three or more level four deficiencies. Each deficiency occurring on a separate day in a 24 month period,” said Schwertner at a hearing in August.

The Department of Aging and Disability Services inspects nursing homes and has authority to revoke licenses, but Schwertner says the rules are too vague.

“I think Texans don't want their parents and grandparents in a substandard facility. There needs to be a finality to repeated bad actors in nursing home administration,” said Schwertner in a phone interview.

Those “bad actors” are the ones with the most egregious violations.

“It is anything that puts the nursing home recipient in immediate jeopardy of potential serious harm or death… Texans need to have the confidence that when they place their loved ones, parents and grandparents, in a nursing home that it's free from abuse and neglect,” said Schwertner.

Senator Schwertner's “three strikes” plan will have to pass the legislature to take effect. Lawmakers are expected to tackle the issue during the 2015 legislative session.

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