Life Care Center of Kirkland facing $611,000 fine for handling of coronavirus outbreak

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Federal inspectors say the Life Care Center of Kirkland, where 40 people have died due to COVID-19, is facing a $611,000 fine for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

The nursing home was the epicenter of the country’s first major outbreak of the coronavirus. At least one of the 40 deaths was a visitor.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote a letter to Life Care Center of Kirkland on Wednesday in which it said the nursing home:

-- Failed to report an outbreak of respiratory infection and a pneumonia outbreak in a timely manner.

-- Did not provide adequate for care residents.

-- Did not provide 24-hour emergency doctor services.

CMS and the State of Washington Department of Social & Health State Survey Agency completed a complaint survey of Life Care Center of Kirkland on March 18.

CMS officials said that based on the results Life Care Center of Kirkland “no longer met the requirements for participation as a provider of services in the Medicare program established under Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act (the Act).”

>> Related: Nurses taking care of Life Care Center patients describe what they saw inside the facility

Officials said if the nursing home did not correct its deficiencies and return to “full compliance” by 12:01 a.m. Sept. 16, it would terminate the facility from participating in the Medicare/Medicaid program.

CMS levied a per-day penalty of $13,585 on Life Care Center of Kirkland for its “deficiencies” from Feb. 12 to March 27. Feb. 12 is around the time when officials say the outbreak at the facility began.

CMS said the fine may be increased or decreased depending on how the nursing home complies going forward.

Life Care Center of Kirkland could also lose its Nurse Aid Training and Competency Evaluation Program and could be denied payment for new residents who were admitted from March 21 to March 27, CMS officials said.

Through Tuesday night, the Washington state Department of Health said 165 King County residents, and 247 residents statewide, had died of coronavirus.