Sweet Brook to appeal state's move to revoke license

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Sweet Brook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center will fight the state Department of Public Health's decision to revoke the facility's license.

The Williamstown nursing home notified the DPH on May 17 that it intends to request a hearing to appeal through the agency's Division of Administrative Law Appeals.

That hearing has not yet been scheduled. The deadline to appeal was May 20.

For now, operations continue.

"The facility would remain open during the hearing process," DPH spokeswoman Marybeth McCabe said.

If the nursing home loses its appeal, details would be provided about the timing of a closing.

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"If there was a final decision or settlement agreement under which the facility would close, the decision or agreement would include terms about the timing of the closure and revocation of the license," McCabe said.

The state moved in April to revoke Sweet Brook's license to operate, noting that the facility is unfit for business.

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

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

State Rep. John Barrett III had expressed frustration that the CMS removed the facility from its most recent state of immediate jeopardy, despite its own report noting multiple instances of sexual abuse between patients who were not cognitively able to consent.

The acts occurred on dates between December 2018 and February, according to a federal report.

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Barrett had said he expects the DPH will not be as lenient when dealing with the facility.

If Sweet Brook is unsuccessful in its appeal, the facility would be responsible for finding new placements for residents, according to McCabe.

Administrators would need to match the residents to new homes based on location and available services, and must arrange appropriate transportation for the residents.

The nursing home also is responsible for transferring medical records, medications and belongings, McCabe said, as well as any money in personal accounts.

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


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