Pine Island, Minnesota. By the time the government took over the Pine Haven Nursing Center on Pine Island last Saturday, the nursing home was littered with unpaid bills and the care of its more than 50 residents was threatened by fears of a potential exodus of staff.

According to Ramsey County Court documents, the company has faced a range of creditors. Pine Haven’s assets and bank account were frozen. There was only $1,500 in the bank account he used to pay expenses, compared to $200,000 the previous year. The worker’s insurance was not paid.

Its CEO, Markus Parens, instructed the director of nursing to take medicines from the emergency kit because the pharmacy, where he relied on medicines for residents, refused to provide them without payment. Several employees resigned due to the center’s financial instability, and there were fears that others were heading for the door.

“If current Pine Haven Care Center staff quit their jobs due to non-payment of wages or health insurance premiums, there will be no one to take care of the 52 residents of the facility,” State Health Commissioner Ian Malcolm said in one of the court documents. .

Even the HR company hired by Pine Haven, UKG to handle payroll threatened to not release the payroll until it was paid.

Pine Harbor Care Center

Pine Haven Care Center in Pine Island, Minnesota on Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Andrew Link / Mail Bulletin

By Saturday, after amassing evidence of Pine Haven’s financial distress and inability to pay bills, the State Department took control of the beleaguered facility and placed Pathway Health, a professional management organization, in charge of its operations. State health officials called the center’s financial situation “shaky.”

“There is reason to believe that institutional care has been compromised,” one document says.

The nursing home is licensed to house 70 people but currently has 52 residents. It is state licensed and certified by the federal government for federal Medicare and Medicaid, a state/federal program.

The documents note that MDH investigated a complaint in May regarding Pine Haven’s failure to make sure its staff were aware of a resident’s peanut allergy. When a resident was served peanut dessert, the resident suffered an anaphylactic reaction and was sent to the hospital.

“One of the concerns we had was that there was an immediate threat to the care of residents because people have to take care of them (nursing home residents),” said Maria King, MDH Health Regulation Director, explaining the decision. states to intervene.

Pine Harbor Care Center

Pine Haven Care Center in Pine Island, Minnesota on Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Andrew Link / Mail Bulletin

King said bankruptcy proceedings, a court-appointed tool that helps troubled organizations, allows the state to “offer some support to the institution and make sure they get their paycheck.”

The state could potentially close the facility and transfer nursing home residents to other facilities, but King said she hopes that won’t be the outcome. King noted that the facility is supported by the local Pine Island community and that the plant is in good condition.

“What we hope is that this managing agent will help get things back on track,” King said. “They will of course make an assessment and then appropriate decisions will be made based on what we find there.”

King said she did not know why Pine Haven was in such financial trouble and the extent of its financial difficulties would not be known until the assessment was completed.

Government takeovers of nursing homes are rare. This has only happened half a dozen times in the last 15 years in Minnesota. Recent examples include Camden Care Center in Minneapolis, which went into receivership in 2014. The institution remained open, but passed to another owner.

In 2015, Infinia Owatonna and Infinia Faribault closed due to financial difficulties. Last year, the Twin Cities Gardens nursing home in Minneapolis closed due to multiple financial and physical problems.

Nursing homes have faced financial and staffing challenges in the past, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

King said she doesn’t know at this point if the Pine Haven situation was an exception or a sign of an industry-wide crisis.

“I’m not sure yet,” King said. “Of course, we know that there is a staffing problem in this institution. And this is a problem in many institutions in the state and across the country.”

MDH launched an investigation into the Pine Island Nursing Home after it received a complaint last month that the center would be unable to pay salaries. According to King, the complaint was rated by MDH officials as an “immediate danger” situation, which is the most egregious level.

MDH staff visited the site earlier this month and interviewed Pine Haven staff, suppliers and lenders.

The investigation revealed “a system of non-fulfillment of current financial obligations.” The nursing home failed to pay employee wages and health insurance on time, as well as the pharmacy, food vendor, and payroll service provider.

King said one resident, who was recently admitted, did not receive medication for about a day because the pharmacy refused to provide it without payment. It turned out that it is not life threatening. An agreement was reached with the pharmacy to ensure “there were no drug outages,” King said.

Court records show that when MDH officials interviewed Randy Hoffart, chairman of the Pine Haven board of directors, he said the board learned last week that nursing home assets and bank accounts had been frozen.

When he went to the bank to find out why, he left empty-handed. He told MDH officials that Parens, the administrator of the nursing home, did not tell the council that there was so little money in his bank account and in a separate account holding residents’ funds.

Attempts to contact Parence via Facebook have been unsuccessful.

Officials say there have been other allegations and complaints about the facility over the past year. But a government investigation found no “serious issues” with Pine Haven’s service quality as part of the current investigation.

“The big problem in this particular bankruptcy office was the financial difficulty the property was in,” she said. “People are needed to meet the needs of these individual residents. And those people who do good work should get paid.”

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