Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff care facilities added to federal watchlist
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Two healthcare facilities in Siouxland have been added to a federal watchlist as part of the worst nursing homes in the United States.

Westwood Specialty Care in Sioux City and Embassy Rehab and Care Center in Sergeant Bluff have both been placed on the federal government’s Special Focus Facility (SFF) program list as candidates, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) October report. The report also shows facilities on the SFF program, those that have graduated from the program, and facilities no longer in Medicare or Medicaid.

The SFF program works by using the health inspection domain of the Five-Star Quality Rating System. The more deficiencies that are cited, and the more cited at higher levels of S/S, the more points are assigned.

CMS and State Agencies (SAs) inspect nursing homes regularly to determine if they provide the required quality of care for residents’ health and safety. The CMS is under the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

While the standard health inspection average deficiencies are around six to seven, to address problems of more deficiencies or serious problems posing risks to the health and safety of healthcare facilities residents the CMS operates the SFF program.

Westwood Specialty Care, an 85-bed facility, has an overall rating of one star on the Medicare website. The Medicare rating is measured by health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. The website states the facility has had seven federal fines in the last three years, with the last dating March 30, 2023. They have also had 145 complaints in the past 3 years resulting in a citation.

The Embassy Rehab and Care Center, a 60-bed facility, also has an overall rating of one star on the Medicare website. The website also states the facility has had two federal fines in the last three years with the last dating on April 26, 2022. There is also a special note stating the facility has been cited for abuse.

Westwood Specialty Care has been a SFF candidate for three months while Embassy Rehab and Care Center has been on the list for four months.

Healthcare homes designated as SFF remain in the program until they improve enough to “graduate” out of the program, or they are terminated from Medicare and/or Medicaid programs.

There were many other Iowa facilities as well as Nebraska and South Dakota facilities on the list, but no others in Sioux City.

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