Veterans Home in Hilo Fined $510,640 for Infection Control Deficiencies Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo was assessed $510,640 in federal civil penalties for failing to correct COVID-19 infection control deficiencies.

The COVID-19 cluster included 71 infections of patients and 35 staff, and resulted in 27 deaths.

The fines were handed down by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The remedies imposed on the facility include the denial of payment for new admissions and a directed plan of correction. 

The action came following a series of site visits conducted by the Hawai‘i Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance on behalf of the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The unannounced visits were designed to determine the Home’s compliance with federal certification requirements and resulted in the facility being cited for not being “in substantial compliance” and for causing “immediate jeopardy to resident health and safety.”

A follow-up survey on Oct. 30 revealed the facility was still not being in substantial compliance and having the most serious scope and severity of deficiencies in infection control.

The state Department of Health reports that the facility’s situation eventually improved. During a follow-up visit on Jan. 6, 2021, inspectors found the facility to be in compliance, avoiding a mandatory termination of the facility on April 16, 2021.

However, in addition to the civil monetary penalty, Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home was denied payment for new Medicare and Medicaid admissions from Oct. 18, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021.

Management of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home was taken over by the state on Jan. 1, 2021.

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