Deal with new operator of Charlotte Hall imminent as deadline, possible layoffs approach
The state is inching closer to inking a deal to replace the operator of the troubled state-owned Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in St. Mary’s County.
Maryland Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Woods told the Board of Public Works on Wednesday that his agency is “currently in direct negotiations with a highly regarded vendor of expertise managing and operating long term care facilities and veterans retirement homes and hope to finalize a new management contract in the coming days.”
The current operator, South Carolina-based HRM is expected to leave the facility in June. The company notified the state Department of Labor that 233 workers could lose their jobs when it departs.
A spokesperson for Gov. Wes Moore (D) could not immediately provide details of the layoffs or what happens to workers after June 6 when HRM leaves the nursing home.
Woods spoke to the board Wednesday from Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. It is the eighth time he has visited the facility.
The Veterans Affairs secretary provided the update while asking the three-member board to approve emergency contracts totaling $92,000 for additional short-term nursing staff and baseline health assessments of residents at the facility.
The state hired Largo-based ReckondWith Group and Hanover-based Larods Medical Services to perform wellness assessments of residents at the facility. The companies received contracts valued at $32,000 and $60,000 respectively. Woods said the assessments cost nearly $25,000 to complete.
Woods said assessments were conducted on 213 residents between March 21 and March 31.
Reports on those assessments will be provided to the facility as well as state and federal regulators. Woods said some findings from those reviews could become public at a later date.
Earlier this year, the state awarded a contract with another Maryland staffing company. The contract was canceled when the company could not provide the nine nurses needed to complete the review on the state’s two-week timeline.
In March, Moore announced the cancellation of the contract with HMR Maryland, citing reports of abuse and neglect involving residents.
Charlotte Hall Veterans Home opened in 1985 and provides assisted and skilled nursing care for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses. Residents typically have more challenging physical and mental health care needs than residents of private facilities.
HMR has run the home for the state since 2002. The company is in the seventh year of an eight-year contract. That deal, awarded in 2016, was worth a total of $341.7 million.
In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a series of reports highlighting concerns at the facility. The federal agency gave Charlotte Hall its lowest rating accompanied with a warning about reports of abuse.
The findings include minor to more serious issues involving physical abuse or degradation.
Since 2020, the federal agency has fined the facility four times, for a total of $266,217. Fines are assessed for an array of issues including serious health or safety issues. Fines can also be issued for failing to correct a citation for an extended period.
In response, the General Assembly passed late-filed legislation requiring enhanced public reporting of incidents at state-owned nursing home facilities. The bill, which awaits Moore’s signature, also requires public reporting of plans to address deficiencies.