Los Angeles businessman Shlomo Rechnitz, the owner of a nursing home chain called Brius Healthcare, has secured new licenses for his California facilities just before significant state reforms are set to take effect.

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Nursing Home Chain Owner

Rechnitz’s companies have been intensely scrutinized due to concerns over substandard care and inadequate staffing. Federal and state inspection reports, plaintiffs’ attorneys, and media sources have shed light on these issues. Some of Rechnitz’s nursing homes have faced severe penalties, including decertification or threats of decertification, resulting in the loss of crucial Medicare and Medi-Cal funding. Based on ABC10 News, Wish-I-Ah Healthcare & Wellness Centre near Fresno was forced to close down following the tragic death of a 75-year-old resident. The investigation revealed gross negligence, with staff members leaving a foam sponge used in dressing a mastectomy wound inside the resident’s body, leading to a fatal blood infection.

State authorities discovered further grave problems, including toilets overflowing with fecal matter, contributing to the facility’s closure. In May 2018, the State Auditor’s office highlighted Brius Healthcare for its higher rate of federal deficiencies and state citations compared to other nursing home facilities in California. Rechnitz acquired 18 Country Villa-branded nursing homes through bankruptcy court in 2014. Despite filing change-of-ownership applications, the state left them pending, allowing Rechnitz to continue operating without a formal license, a practice that is not technically illegal. Although a new law aimed at closing this licensing loophole is set to take effect on July 1, it primarily focuses on new license applications rather than addressing the existing facilities that have operated in a legal gray area for years.

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The California Department of Public Health defended the recent licensing settlement with Rechnitz, highlighting the inclusion of oversight provisions and more vital enforcement tools to ensure reasonable and appropriate care for residents. The payment entails a two-year monitoring period, regular meetings to review care quality, and fines for non-compliance. Critics like Tony Chicotel from California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform express disappointment but little surprise at the state’s decision to grant licenses to Rechnitz’s facilities, citing longstanding systemic problems within the chain. However, they believe the new law still holds value for future cases to prevent similar licensing issues from occurring again.

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