County looking into DuBois facility issue|
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Clearfield County Commissioners are seeking additional information on the state Department of Public Welfare's actions against the Valley View Independent Living in DuBois.
At their meeting yesterday, the commissioners said they intend to send a letter of inquiry to the DPW seeking an explanation for its recent actions against Valley View and its operator, the DuBois Community of Continuum of Care, following a presentation by Gary Peters, administrator of DCCC, Deb Harris, manager of Valley View, and Diane Bernardo, DuBois City Council member.
The commissioners asked Solicitor Kim Kesner to draft the letter for review but did not take a formal vote on the matter.
Valley View Independent Living is a 23-unit facility located 284 S. Eighth St. in DuBois. It has been operating since 2001, but on May 20, the DPW informed DuBois Continuum of Care that Valley View is an illegally operating assisted living residence and ordered it to apply for assisted living licensure for the facility or be imposed a fine of $500 plus $200 for each day it continues to operate, according to Peters.
To become an assisted living residence would require Valley View Independent Living to make significant upgrades to both its facilities and its staff, forcing it to raise its rates and making it too expensive for many of the residents who are low-income, Peters said.
Plus it would be against the original intention of Valley View to be an affordable independent living facility. Harris said in addition to housing, Valley View provides residents with two meals a day and some non-skilled services such as assistance with cleaning their residences, helping them get into the bathtub or shower, etc.
Harris said Valley View is a licensed home care provider and provides these services to the community in addition to its residents.
Home care is different than home health care in that home health care provides skilled services such as nursing and medical services in a person's home.
Valley View does not require residents to use its services and they have the option of using any provider of their choosing.
According to documentation provided by Harris, there are 13 residents of Valley View who are receiving services, five of whom are receiving Medicaid.
The facility was formerly located nearby in a wing of the DuBois Nursing Home, which is also operated by the DCCC. Earlier this year, Peters said, Valley View relocated to the third floor of the same building that houses. The Village, a personal care facility, which is also operated by DCCC.
Peters said the new facility is a substantial upgrade from its former location but other than the move, Valley View hasn't made any changes in how it does business or the services it provides to its residents.
However, Peters said it appears the move is what prompted DPW to act. When it was located in the same building as the nursing home, the nursing home was inspected by the Department of Health.
However, as a personal care facility, The Village is inspected by the DPW. During its last inspection, Harris said DPW officials had a lot of questions about the Valley View facility located in the building and shortly afterward DPW issued its decision that Valley View is an assisted living facility, not an independent living facility.
"An assisted living residence is ‘any premises in which food, shelter, assisted living services, assistance or supervision and supplemental health care services are provided for a period exceeding 24 hours for four or more adults who are not relatives of the operator who require assistance or supervision in matters such as dressing, bathing, diet, financial management, evacuation from the residence in the event of an emergency or medication prescribed for self-administration,'" according to the DPW in documents provided by Harris.
Peters said DCCC is appealing DPW's decision, saying if it is allowed to stand it could have a far-reaching impact on similar facilities in the county and the state.
It would have a negative impact on the state's finances as well because it could force many residents in independent living facilities into nursing homes, which are far more expensive.
Peters said he believes an ‘internal miscommunication" within the DPW could be the cause of its recent action and said DCCC is confident in the correctness of its position.
When Peters and Harris were asked by The Progress if the DPW is taking this action because the facility provides both housing and home care services, they said they don't believe so but aren't sure because DPW has been vague.
But, if Valley View were forced to stop offering services, Peters said the facility would be forced to raise its rates because it does make some money off of its services.
In its letter dated May 20, the DPW gave the facility 14 days to apply for assisted living licensure or appeal its decision to the DPW Bureau of Hearings and Appeals.
Until a final determination is made, Peters said the facility is in a state of limbo and is not accepting any new residents even though there are four vacancies as well as a long waiting list to get in.