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Fircrest Convalescent Hospital to close Sebastopol nursing home

Fircrest Convalescent Hospital is scheduled to close after the termination of an agreement that reimbursed the Sebastopol skilled nursing facility for services to patients insured through Medicare and Medicaid, according to state regulators.

The California Department of Public Health, which regulates nursing homes, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services terminated the agreement because Fircrest did not comply with federal standards.

The state agency did not detail the alleged violations that prompted the federal agencies to cut off funding, a crucial source of money for skilled nursing facilities and other types of hospitals. Fircrest has opted to close the facility, the Department of Public Health said.

Diltar Sidhu, the hospital administrator, declined to comment Friday about the closure. Calls to Anthony Thekkek, president of Paksn Inc., which is listed as the facility’s owner in state audit records, were not returned.

The facility is licensed for 50 beds, but one current resident estimated there were currently about 35 residents. The resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said family members were sent a letter this month notifying them of the closure. The resident said the hospital has scheduled a “community meeting” for residents and family members to discuss patient options for transferring to another facility.

The resident said the hospital has been losing staff in the past few months and the quality of patient care and attention has suffered.

Family members often call patients “and nobody answers the phone. There can be two or three people sitting by the phone and it rings and rings and rings,” the patient said. Some have complained about cooked food that is served cold because it is not delivered in a timely manner after it has been prepared.

The number of complaints about Fircrest has increased sharply over the past two years. State regulators received 44 complaints last year that alleged Fircrest had not complied with state and federal laws or regulations, up from 21 complaints in 2016. There were eight complaints about the facility in 2015 and 2014; in 2013, there were only four.

On Sept. 7, 2016, the state issued a citation against Fircrest for failing to quickly notify a doctor after a patient suffered a stroke. She was not taken to a hospital until nearly six hours after she told staff that she was having a stroke, according to the citation. The nursing home was fined $20,000 for the alleged violation.

In another 2016 citation, the nursing home was fined $2,000 for failing to report a case of alleged neglect. That July, a Fircrest employee was allegedly accused of refusing to help a resident get off the toilet and left her sitting for a “significant time period, endangering her and her roommate who, at risk to her own safety, attempted to summon staff to help her,” according to the citation.

The citation states the neglectful care endangered the patient’s “safety if she had tried to get off the toilet by herself.” She later told investigators that she felt “she was going to die.”

The delay in reporting the incident did not allow the state to do a prompt investigation, the citation said.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter ?@renofish.

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