Nursing Homes Held by Skyline Owner Face Crisis, Bouncing Paychecks in Mass.

A handful of nursing homes in Massachusetts held by the owner of the troubled Skyline chain have seen bounced paychecks in recent weeks — and at least one has had so many nurses’ aides leave that an entire floor had to close, The Standard-Times reported.

The Bedford Gardens & Rehabilitation Center in New Bedford, Mass., has had paychecks arrive late for the past two pay periods, and when Friday’s pay came on Monday, the checks started bouncing, director Steven Haase told The Standard-Times.

Haase opted to close the third floor of the nursing home on Easter Sunday, as the departure of nurses’ aides reached a point where keeping it open felt unsafe. But each remaining aide is now responsible for 18 to 20 patients, double the normal range, he told the publication.

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Bedford Gardens, along with four other nursing homes in the southeastern part of the Bay State, are owned in full or part by Joseph Schwartz, the same owner of Skyline Healthcare, Haase told the Standard-Times.

Skyline fell apart in the spring of last year, collapsing in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Other affected states included Arkansas, and now Massachusetts can be added to the list.

In addition to Bedford Gardens, the other homes are Bedford Village Care & Rehabilitation Center and Rockdale Care & Rehabilitation Center, both in New Bedford; Dighton Care & Rehabilitation Center in Dighton; and Highland Manor Care & Rehabilitation Center in Fall River. Schwartz holds 100% ownership in all facilities except for the Rockdale one, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’s (CMS) Nursing Home Compare website.

Haase was brought in as executive director for Bedford Gardens by Vero Health Management in January, which was trying to buy the facility, the Standard-Times reported. But the sale fell through and ownership remained with Schwartz, who named an operator for the local facilities, according to Haase.

The operator, who was not named, could not be reached by the Standard-Times. Haase indicated he has been in frequent contact with the Massachusetts Department of Health.

A spokeswoman for the DPH told the publication that the agency is monitoring the situation and that residents or families who believe needs are not being met should contact the local long-term care ombudsman. The DPH did not return messages left by Skilled Nursing News as of press time.

Investigators from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office visited Bedford Gardens Monday, seeking information about its financial management, Haase said. He noted that a nurse who worked at the facility found she had a $16,000 hospital bill last October when she gave birth because the owner had not paid the health insurance premiums.

That matches what operators in other states found when they took over Skyline properties elsewhere; in Kansas, Mission Health Communities found Skyline’s employees had gotten no coverage despite paying health insurance premiums, while in Arkansas, Infinity Healthcare Management found “a mess” in bookkeeping and accounting, as well as employees who lost insurance despite having deductions taken out of their paychecks.

UPDATE: Skyline has voluntarily surrendered its licenses for the five facilities in Massachusetts, with state officials set to oversee their closure.

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