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Nursing Home Company Settles Understaffing Claims for $4 Million

By Tom Marino | June 11, 2024
Last Updated: June 11, 2024

WORCESTER – The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell announced a settlement with a Woburn-based health care company, which has locations in Worcester, Fitchburg, and Westborough.

Next Step Healthcare, LLC, agreed to pay $4 million to settle allegations that it deliberately understaffed its nursing homes, leading to resident harm and neglect.

The settlement also requires the company’s an independent compliance monitor to oversee its facilities.

The AG’s office says the settlement resulted from an investigation over many years.

The investigation launched after the office received reports from the Department of Public Health of violated regulations and substandard care.

“For years, Next Step prioritized profit over care by failing to adequately staff its nursing homes,” said AG Campbell. “I am proud of my team’s efforts in securing this settlement, the largest of its kind, which will send a message that this conduct will not be tolerated and ensure that Next Step’s facilities comply with staffing requirements moving forward, assuring that vulnerable elderly residents receive the proper care they need.”

Next Step operates and manages 16 nursing homes in Massachusetts. In Worcester County, the company has The Hermitage Healthcare on Mill Street in Worcester, Fitchburg Healthcare on John Fitch Highway, and Westborough Healthcare on Colonial Drive.

Its other locations include Attleboro, Fall River, Lee, Malden, Melrose, Middleborough, Norwood, Plymouth, Taunton, Walpole, West Newton.

From the $4 million settlement, $375,000 will be distributed to Mass Health. Another $375,000 will be distributed to the Long-Term Care Facility Quality Improvement Fund, a fund operated by the Department of Public Health dedicated to improving care at long-term care facilities.

The AG’s office alleged that the company reduced certified nursing assistance (CNA) and non-CNA positions in April 2019. The company was already struggling to provide adequate staffing at the time. After new regulations with staffing requirements went into effect in April 2021, the company allegedly continued understaffing its facilities.

Next Step’s policies led to its facilities ranking in the bottom 10 percent for staffing levels.

Image Credit: Google

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