Federal health agency terminates Medicare agreement with Salisbury nursing home

SALISBURY, N.C. — The Secretary of Health and Human Services is terminating its agreement between Medicare and the Citadel Salisbury on May 19, according to federal officials.

The department stated the nursing home failed to meet Medicare’s basic and health and safety requirement.

The Notice to Public of Involuntary Termination stated that Medicare will stop paying for services for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries admitted after May 19. For patients already there, payments may continue up to 30 days.

Channel 9 has investigated several claims at The Citadel since the start of the pandemic two years ago. The reports included a class-action lawsuit, which, in part, alleges critical staff shortages that compromised patient care.

The Citadel also had multiple COVID-19 outbreaks. In one outbreak, 21 people died.

The CDC sent a strike team in September 2020 to recommend changes to prevent more outbreaks.

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“Involuntary termination of a provider agreement is generally a last resort after all other attempts to remedy the deficiencies at a facility have been exhausted,” HHS stated in a news release.

“I just received the news today about the termination,” said Melissa Stirewalt, who filed a grievance with the nursing home.

Her 73-year-old father, who is paralyzed, lives at The Citadel for three years.

“There are some days he can’t even get out of bed, because there’s not enough staff. The quality of life is just terrible, and this shouldn’t be the way it is.”

Stirewalt is a relieved something is being done about the situation.

“This has been our focus for the last two years for The Citadel and making things better for my dad and the other residents there,” she said. “It leaves a lot of questions. What happens next?”

Residents, patients and family members, recommends visiting the following websites for additional assistance through the relocation process:

Care Compare Website

Hospital Compare Website

A statement from the law firm representing families who filed the class-action lawsuit says their concerns aren’t limited to the Salisbury facility, but 36 others under the same ownership in North Carolina.

The Citadel Salisbury said it would appeal the department’s decision.

Statement from the Citadel Salisbury:

“We are shocked and disappointed at this decision. The progress this nursing home has made to improve the quality of care during a global pandemic is respectable. The staff are heroic.

“The Citadel improved their quality measures to a 4 star rating from a 2 star rating in only 18 months.

“We love our residents wholeheartedly and our mission was only to ever share in their lives and make them happy.”

(Watch the video below: Citadel owners respond to lawsuit)