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121417-blm-loc-1aperion

Aperion Care Bloomington, 1509 N. Calhoun St., Bloomington, is shown on Dec. 13, 2017. Aperion Care is under increased scrutiny by federal officials after a series of violations but Aperion's general counsel said the facility is "moving in a positive direction."

BLOOMINGTON — Nursing homes in Bloomington and Pontiac are getting increased scrutiny from the federal government because of a series of violations.

"We are concerned," said Susan Real, executive director of the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging, which includes the regional ombudsman program for nursing home residents.

Aperion Care Bloomington is listed on the Special Focus Facility Program list of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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Accolade Healthcare of Pontiac is a candidate for the list, according to documents released this week by two Pennsylvania senators.

According to CMS, there are 88 special focus facility program participants and 435 candidates of more than 15,700 nursing homes nationwide.

"We are aware of their placement," Real told The Pantagraph on Tuesday. She said placement results from "a series of violations ... that have to be resolved," meaning the facilities are given "a higher level of scrutiny."

"We are monitoring the situation to make sure residents are served," Real said. "CMS is involved because of federal reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid."

"Aperion Care takes the designation of special focus by the federal government very seriously," Aperion General Counsel Fred Frankel told The Pantagraph. "We take the safety and well-being of our residents very seriously and are working to bring it (Aperion Bloomington) up to where it should be."

Aperion, 1509 N. Calhoun St., has been on the list for a while, said Frankel, who referenced Pantagraph articles in December 2017 and January 2018 regarding fines by the state because of inadequate staffing and lapses in resident care that, in some cases, resulted in hospitalizations. Aperion in late 2017 took the unusual step of reducing the number of residents until underlying problems at the long-term care facility can be remedied.

"It's a work in progress," he said of efforts to improve Aperion. "This has been a facility that has struggled since before we took it over. ... I believe it's moving in a positive direction."

Efforts to get a comment from Accolade, 300 W. Lowell St., were unsuccessful. Accolade last year was fined $25,000 by the state after a resident's condition worsened unnecessarily. Accolade appealed the fine.

Real said Illinois Department of Public Health site surveys of nursing homes should be available at each facility's front desk. Anyone with concerns about a facility may contact the area agency on aging's regional ombudsman program at 309-829-2065.

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