Sonoma Developmental Center appeals state penalty

The Sonoma Developmental Center submitted a formal request on Aug. 8, for an appeal of the decertification findings brought against the Glen Ellen facility by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

According to a Monday press release from Nancy Lungren, spokesperson for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), the appeal requests a full evidentiary hearing on the decisions and findings of the CDPH survey that was conducted at the center over the past several months. The CDPH enforcement action was announced July 25 against seven units of SDC’s Intermediate Care Facility (ICF), alleging numerous program failures that do not meet the statutory requirements of the Social Security Act. The decision affects federal payments for 166 residents. The result, if the decertification action is upheld, would mean the loss of $2.5 million a month in federal funding through the Medi-Cal program. No funds will be withheld during the appeal.

The July action followed the decision in January 2013 to remove four ICF units from federal funding because of noncompliance with CDPH standards. SDC entered into a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with the CDPH to continue federal funding for those units after extensive discussion with both CDPH and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Under the plan, DDS contracted with outside experts, subject to the approval of CDPH and CMS, to implement improvements at Sonoma. With the assistance of those independent experts, claim SDC administrators, a great deal of progress has been made at Sonoma to come into compliance with the federal requirements.

According to a press release statement by SDC executive director Karen Faria, “Sonoma (Developmental Center) has made improvements in all aspects of care and services to the men and women residing at Sonoma, including an emphasis on medical, behavioral and training services. We have evaluated all aspects of operations and direct care of the individuals who reside at Sonoma, and will continue to work closely with CDPH and CMS in making improvements in areas as needed.

Added Faria, “Most importantly, we are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our residents, and one in which they thrive.”

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