Nursing Home Deadline Approaches

August 15, 2003  -- Posted at 7:19 a.m. CDT

BENTON, Ark.  --State inspectors are trying to determine if a state-run nursing home for the mentally ill can meet a deadline to get back into line with Medicaid guidelines. The deadline is only a little over a week away.

Five patients have died at the Arkansas Health Center over the past year, resulting in fines and demands for reform. The patient deaths were linked to staff mistakes or failed policies. This week, nurses for the state and Medicare have evaluated policies, personnel and procedures.

Officials hope to finish with their inspection today. The state Office of Long Term Care and federal authorities set an August 18th deadline to revamp the facility's pharmacy system and expand training.

The deadline was extended to August 23rd. If investigators don't believe the Benton facility is back in compliance, they could cut off Medicaid funding, effectively shutting it down.

Copyright 2003. Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.