Largest Texas SNF Operator Takes Heat Over Hurricane Response

Texas state regulators are scrutinizing the state’s largest skilled nursing facility (SNF) operator after one of its administrators reportedly refused to allow an evacuation during Hurricane Harvey.

An investigation is underway to determine why Lake Arthur Place in Port Arthur, Texas, initially stopped volunteers from taking its 70 residents away in boats even though the one-story building had flooded, reported the Dallas Morning News. Lake Arthur Place is owned and managed by Senior Care Centers, a Dallas-based SNF operator with nearly 100 facilities across Texas.

Police reportedly had to handcuff the SNF’s administrator to begin the evacuation, but Senior Care Centers said he had good intentions when he turned rescuers away. The company’s president, Andrew Kerr, told The Dallas Morning News the SNF needed a mandatory evacuation order to release residents.

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State regulators disagree, however.

“It’s exactly the opposite,” Christine Mann, spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told the newspaper. “Facilities are responsible for keeping the residents they serve safe from harm.”

In the wake of the hurricane, some families of Senior Care residents are mulling bringing a lawsuit against Senior Care. A criminal investigation about the incident is also underway, according to the Dallas Morning News.

A spokesperson for Senior Care Centers didn’t return an email for further comment.

Senior Care Centers wasn’t the only SNF operator that suffered through Harvey, which dumped dozens of inches of rain on the Lone Star State. The storm also left residents of a Dickinson, Texas-based assisted living community stranded in waist-deep water.

Similarly, a power outage that led to a lack of air conditioning caused the deaths of more than a dozen residents at a Hollywood, Florida, SNF following Hurricane Irma, which struck shortly after Harvey.

The recent hurricane season has turned up the heat on SNFs as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) prepares to begin enforcing new emergency preparedness guidelines in November.

Written by Tim Regan

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