Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
News

Spring Hill health agency folds after parent company fined $210,000


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SPRING HILL - A local home health agency has closed after a state health department says its parent company violated numerous health codes, endangered patients, and falsified their license renewal applications.

Jupiter-based Autumn Home Care of Palm Coast Florida has been doing business since 2007 as Autumn Home Care, Autumn Home Care of Southwestern Florida and Autumn Home Care of North Central Florida, according to Division of Corporations filings.

Included in an administrative complaint finalized in March is Autumn Home Care of North Central Florida, which was previously licensed to operate a home health agency at 13115 Spring Hill Dr.

The license renewal was denied in March, and the Spring Hill location closed after the Autumn Home Care of Southwestern Florida branch was fined $210,000, according to the complaint.

After receiving several complaints, state health facility inspectors found, based on clinic records and interviews with administrative and clinical staff, that six patients at an Autumn Home Care facility in Clewiston received inadequate care to the point of being placed at imminent risk of death, disablement, or permanent injury.

Some of the findings listed in the complaint show patients missed doses of intravenous antibiotics with loss of blood levels potentially exacerbating infection, missed care as ordered by physicians outside the facility, did not receive nursing services as ordered, and did not have established plans for treatment.

The complaint does not list any documented violations for the company's Spring Hill location.

Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, also charged the company with making false representations on their license renewal application pertaining to Medicare.

The application lists Susan and William Tuthill each as having 15 percent controlling interests over the organization. Florida law classifies "controlling interest" as 5 percent or greater ownership, according to AHCA.

When asked on their renewal application whether either applicant had been excluded, suspended, terminated, or involuntarily withdrawn from participating in the Medicare or Medicaid programs in any state, Susan Tuthill marked, "No," according to the complaint.

However, the complaint shows Tuthill previously operated Autumn Home Care of Naperville, Inc. in Naperville, Ill., and was terminated from the Medicare program there March 2012 for failing to comply with the terms of the program.

Termination from the program is a cause to deny license renewal, according to AHCA.

A letter sent to Tuthill from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows Autumn Home Care was terminated from the program in Illinois for also failing to provide adequate organization and administrative services, or skilled nursing services.

"We had also determined that the deficiencies were so serious that they posed immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety," the letter reads.

The state health agency further amended its notice of intent to deny in a letter sent to the organization in March, which included another falsification charge.

The letter alleged the company further falsified its renewal application by assigning 30 percent ownership of the company to a former-shareholder who resigned more than a year before.

Also noted in the letter is reported financial instability within the company "due to complaints by staff that did not receive payment for their services."

The letter goes on to say the company failed to reimburse staff, failed to devise a plan of corrective action for staff reimbursement problems, and failed to pay an outstanding facility fee owed to AHCA.

Neither Tuthill or other company representatives could be reached for comment.

As a managing member of all company branches, Tuthill authorized the fine and license denial agreement with the AHCA in June, a copy shows.

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