BENNINGTON -- An inspection that will likely determine the future of the Vermont Veterans Home began Tuesday and is expected to last into today, according to Board of Trustees President Joseph L. Krawczyk.
The Board of Trustees recently revealed that the facility faces decertification because of issues identified during several inspections since March. The state-run home must correct at least three deficiencies, including an alleged assault of a resident by a nurse, that have been identified by the state Division of Licensing and Protection. The division serves as an agent for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has threatened to cut off about $12 million in annual funding if the home does not pass another surprise inspection by Sept. 28.
That funding accounts for more than half of the home's operating budget. State officials have said the state will not be able to provide its own funding for an extended amount of time to keep the facility running. Losing federal funding would mean the home must seek alternative living arrangements for about 100 of its 155 or so residents.
Officials from the state Division of Licensing and Protection were on the grounds Tuesday to begin another review. CMS plans to terminate its funding 30 days after Sept. 28 if previous deficiencies are not corrected, or if new ones are identified this week.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet today to lay out a course for the facility, which will depend on the outcome of the inspection. "The timing is right. We should know by this meeting tomorrow where we're going," Krawczyk said Tuesday. "I walked around the home. The employees are pumped up. The residents are happy."
CMS has already cut funding for new Medicare or Medicaid residents. Cutting off funds for existing residents could be a debilitating step, officials said.
Home Administrator Melissa Jackson said on Tuesday that it should be clear by the trustees' meeting at 3 p.m. if the facility is back in compliance with federal regulations. "The earliest I will have any information will be tomorrow afternoon," she said. "A lot of times it takes them two days to determine if there is an issue because they have to do so much in-depth analysis."