Countdown set to begin on Sweet Brook closure or appeal


WILLIAMSTOWN — A Williamstown nursing home that was recently ordered to close due to deficiencies in care is expected to receive official notice soon about why its license is being revoked.

The state Department of Public Health moved last week to revoke Sweet Brook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center's license to operate.

In the coming days, the DPH will provide the facility with a "Notice of Agency Action" detailing why the agency doesn't think the facility is fit for business, officials said.

"Within 30 days of receiving notification of the Notice of Agency Action, the licensee must notify DPH if it intends to request a hearing to appeal the license revocation or if it will waive its right to a hearing," the agency said in a statement. "If the licensee chooses to appeal the license revocation, DPH will request that the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) schedule the hearing."

Since summer of 2017, Sweet Brook has been cited by the DPH and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a laundry list of violations, including the alleged neglect and abuse of residents. In February, CMS designated Sweet Brook as a "Special Focus Facility," making it among fewer than 90 nursing homes across the country that have had long-standing and recurring issues in care.

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The federal agency also placed the facility in a state of immediate jeopardy, freezing the ability to admit new patients, twice in the past two years: once on Aug. 30, 2017, and again March 8, 2019.

At the time DPH notified the facility of its pending loss of license last week, there were 84 residents still in its care.

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The residents of Sweet Brook, which holds a state license for 184 beds, will be relocated to other facilities, unless an appeal is successful, according to the Department of Public Health.

A spokeswoman for the facility has said that the owners are doing everything they can to ensure the facility will stay open. She didn't return an email for comment on Tuesday.

Berkshire Healthcare Systems, which owns 15 nursing homes across the state, six of them in the county, is aware of the potential closure, but has not been in direct communication with the owners of Sweet Brook or DPH about the situation, according to Lisa A. Gaudet, vice president of business development and marketing.

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Gaudet said that Berkshire Healthcare is willing to do what it can to assist the residents of the facility if the need arises.

"We feel sad and sorry to hear that they're in this position," she said. "I believe this is still in the hands of the owners and DPH. We'll be as helpful as we possibly can if and when the situation arises."

The Department of Public Health said this is the first time the agency has moved to revoke a facility's license in the last year.

"License revocation is rare," the statement said. "DPH's primary concern is that residents who live in the Commonwealth's nursing homes receive safe, quality care. Revocation of a nursing home's license is generally a last resort after all other attempts to remedy the deficiencies at a facility have been exhausted."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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