Rainier School and Fircrest School have a year to comply with federal rules. Nearly $30 million in Medicaid funding is at stake.
Two Washington state institutions for developmentally disabled people have failed federal audits, potentially endangering nearly $30 million in Medicaid funding.
The Rainier School in Buckley, Pierce County, and Fircrest School in Shoreline, which have a combined 510 seriously disabled patients, have a year to comply with federal rules. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which manages the institutions, said it would appeal, and that no patients would be immediately affected.
Don Clintsman, the deputy assistant secretary of DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration, said Wednesday that the agency is counting on new hires being sought in Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget to address the federal concerns.
Clintsman said the agency is asking for about 130 new employees over the two-year budget.
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“If we get the new full-time employees, then, yes, I believe we will be able to maintain our certification and provide the services they require,” he said.
According to DSHS, federal Medicaid auditors stopped paying for new admissions to the institutions after routine inspections in August 2016. Auditors cited Fircrest School for failing to provide active treatment of residents and gave the institution a year to comply with federal rules. They returned last September and found the problems had not been fixed.
The Rainier School is potentially in more serious trouble, after a series of investigations this year found the institution provided poor medical care for a patient’s pressure sore and a lack of monitoring of another patient’s diet that “possibly contributed” to their deaths. In addition, the institution was cited for not adequately investigating complaints about dental care, and for failing to alert the patients’ parents or guardians.
The Rainier School has been sued twice in recent months in Pierce County Superior Court. In one lawsuit, a 22-year-old man’s alleges he nearly drown after falling into Alder Lake while strapped into a wheelchair. In a second lawsuit, the family of a 57-year-old, nonverbal woman alleges she was raped by a Rainier School caregiver. That staffer, Terry Wayne Shepard, was fired in November and awaits trial on rape charges, according to the The (Tacoma) News Tribune.