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Nursing home set to close, 60 to lose jobs

South Boston News
South Boston Manor
SoVaNow.com / February 18, 2013
The 60-plus employees at South Boston Manor learned Thursday that the long-term care facility will soon be closing and they will be out of a job in the next six to eight weeks.

Epic Group, Ltd., the company that manages the home, sent word that South Boston Manor’s 41 residents will need to be placed in new facilities, said Tammy Waller, director of nursing.

The notice also contained a promise that a management representative would be in South Boston this week to lay out plans for closing the nursing home, which is located behind Halifax Regional Hospital. Waller said she hopes management will share the reasons for the decision.

Efforts by this newspaper to reach company officials for comment were unsuccessful.

Waller and her staff were in the process late last week of contacting the family members of South Boston Manor residents, as well as reaching out to nearby long-term care facilities to make placement arrangments. She said she was confident that other long-care facilities in South Boston, Chase City and Clarksville have enough availability of beds to meet residents’ needs.

The Virginia Department of Health, which licenses and regulates nursing homes and long-term care facilities, describes South Boston Manor as “part of a multiple nursing home ownership and a for profit nursing home.”

Based on its last review, in May, South Boston Manor was primarily deficient in the number of hours its registered nurse worked per resident per day — 22 minutes, compared to the Virginia state nursing home average of 45 minutes. The facility also had 13 complaints filed against it with the Department of Health, compared to the statewide average of five.

However, its fire safety record was much better than at other facilities around the state, and inspections over the past two years uncovered only five areas of concern. The state average is 16 areas of concern, per nursing home.

The federal agency that oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs ranks South Boston Manor as a one-star facility out of five. The overall rating and rating for health inspections peg South Boston Manor as “much below average” and its staffing and quality ratings are “below average,” according to the Medicare site.

The data used to create these ratings comes from two sources — the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) Health Inspection database, and a national database known as the minimum data set, which offers an assessment of resident care at Medicare- or Medicaid-certified facilities.

There is no evidence that these low ratings precipitated Epic Group’s decision to close South Boston Manor.

In 2008, the Forest View nursing home in Durham, N.C., managed by Epic Group, was closed after a state investigation uncovered “serious, even critical hygiene, and health and safety violations.”

Bloomberg Business Week lists Epic Group as the owner of 15 nursing facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, comprising a total of 1,995 beds.

South Boston Manor had assets of $667,357 and liabilities of $1,615.019, and its operating expenses exceeded income by $176,485 in 2011, the most recent year available on the Virginia Health Information website, which tracks the financial and medical performance of health care providers in the state.

Phone calls this week to the principal office of Epic Group, in Myrtle Beach, S.C., were not returned.

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