Following the sudden closure of Northview Village, St. Louis’ largest nursing home, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) is calling for a formal investigation into the finances, provision of care and use of Medicaid and Medicare funds of the facility.
Bush sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Monday, urging the agency to initiate the investigation, along with looking into allegations that Missouri failed to adequately protect residents affected by the closure.
Healthcare Accounting Services (HAS), which owns Northview along with five other properties between Illinois and Missouri, abruptly closed the facility with no prior warning after citing payroll issues. The company is made up of several out-of-state owners, Bush said.
About 184 Northview staff were left without pay and 170 residents were displaced, with loved ones not immediately able to find them, according to an Associated Press (AP) report at the time and Bush’s letter to HHS.
Other residents were later found roaming the surrounding neighborhoods unaccompanied,” Bush said. “Some families were unable to locate their loved ones, sometimes for days, and had to resort to filing missing persons reports.”
What’s more, the facility was looted after its abrupt closure, Bush said, causing the permanent loss of many residents’ personal belongings.
Bush believes the operator violated the federal WARN Act and Social Security Act laws pertaining to the transfer and discharge of facility residents, who were relocated with no advance planning or even consent, Bush said.
The last resident left the property before 6 a.m. on Dec. 16 – at least 15 nearby nursing homes including Superior Manor had former Northview residents show up without paperwork documenting their medical histories or medication needs.
“This appalling treatment of residents, resident families, and staff is deeply concerning and warrants further investigation by the Department,” Bush said in a statement. “Understandably, the sudden closure has upended the lives of residents and staff. I have concerns that there may have been multiple potential violations of the federal laws governing the transfer and discharge of long-term facility residents.”
Bush pointed out that in addition to staff being terminated from their jobs without being compensated for their work or accrued benefits, union dues and health care premiums were deducted from employee checks. Since September, Northview has not forwarded these funds to the appropriate organizations, Bush said in the letter.
There’s significant concern among government officials that the situation at Northview could be played out at other facilities in the state, Bush said.
Northview has been fined 12 times for federal violations since March 2021, according to the AP report. Fines totaled more than $140,000 and ranged between $2,200 and upward of $45,000. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gives Northview one star on Care Compare.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services lists nearly two dozen investigations into Northview since 2016.