A whistleblower lawsuit was instrumental in exposing the shoddy quality of care provided to the residents of a Mississippi nursing home and recovering $1.25 million for Medicare and the Mississippi Medicaid program, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Academy Health Center Inc., the owner and landlord of a Lumberton, Mississippi, building housing the Oxford Health and Rehabilitation skilled nursing home, filed the lawsuit under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act against Hyperion Foundation and its former president Julie Mittleider and AltaCare Corporation and its CEO Douglas Mittleider. The lawsuit also named related companies Long Term Care Services Inc. and Sentry Healthcare Aquirors Inc. as defendants.
According to the Justice Department, Hyperion made claims to Medicare and Medicaid for providing “effectively worthless services” to the residents of the Oxford Health and Rehabilitation nursing home while it was being managed by AltaCare. Not only did these practices scam U.S. taxpayers, they physically harmed the nursing home residents.
According to the whistleblower complaint, Hyperion failed to meet the nutritional needs of residents, failed to administer medications to residents as prescribed by their physicians, overmedicated residents, hired insufficient staff to care for residents, and diverted Medicare and Medicaid funds to other companies affiliated with Douglas and Julie Mittleider.
These practices occurred from October 2005 to May 2012 and left the nursing home unable to pay for its basic operations, including food, heat, air conditioning, pest control, and cleaning, the Justice Department alleged.
The practices also caused the nursing home residents to suffer pressure ulcers, falls, dehydration, malnutrition, and a spectrum of other physical, mental, and emotional harm, the whistleblower complaint asserted. Hyperion submitted false claims for this “grossly substandard care,” and Mr. Mittleider, AltaCare, and other related companies allegedly caused such false claims, the U.S. alleged.
“When operators of nursing homes harm our most vulnerable citizens and break the law by defrauding our government for grossly substandard or worthless services, we will bring to bear all the resources of the Federal Government in order to rectify these terrible actions,” said D. Michael Hurst, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.