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Appeal denied, Lakeview rehab will shut down

Union Leader Correspondent

May 21. 2015 8:04PM
The CEO of the Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center on Thursday confirmed that the facility is closing and a new owner is being sought. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

EFFINGHAM — After the state Board of Education upheld a decision that closed the special-education program at the Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center, the chief executive officer of the center, which treats people with acquired brain disorders and developmental disabilities, said Lakeview is shutting down and looking for a new owner.

Last month, following three inspections and the issuance of a 32-page letter to Lakeview that referenced “…a consistent pattern in the severity, length, and repetitive nature of the findings of noncompliance,” Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry ordered the special-education program at Lakeview to cease operation.

Lakeview filed an appeal, which was heard on Wednesday by the state Board of Education.

Following the board’s vote to uphold the decertification of the program, Lakeview CEO Chris Slover said the action meant that the entire Lakeview facility – which in addition to the Lakeview School has 88 beds and nearly 300 employees – would have to close.

“We are saddened by the New Hampshire Department of Education’s decision to deny our appeal of the closure order for the Lakeview School,” Slover said in an email statement provided Thursday by MBS Value Partners, a Manhattan-based investor relations and communications firm.

“The economic impact of the school closure combined with the state’s moratorium on new residents for the Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center — and the impact that it’s had on out-of-state placements — make it economically impossible to continue operating the facility. Therefore, we will begin working immediately on a plan for an orderly shutdown of the Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center, including the Lakeview School.”

Slover added that “It is possible that the facility can continue under a new operator, and Lakeview is actively working on that plan. Our top priority, as always, is the well-being of our residents and employees, and we will do all that we can with all stakeholders as the closure planning process moves forward.”

Department of Education officials were not available for comment Thursday. A representative of the state Department of Health and Human Services said the agency would release a statement at a later time.

The closure of the special-education program at Lakeview came in the wake of two “white papers” released last September by the New Hampshire Disabilities Rights Center that alleged systemic deficiencies at Lakeview that in one case led to the death of a patient.

The report said the deficiencies included “lack of professional oversight; inadequate coordination of medical, neurologic and psychiatric care; inadequate staffing levels; lack of training for, and indifference of, some direct support staff; and broad failures in communication between and among Lakeview’s staff and between Lakeview and its residents’ families and guardians.”

Although Lakeview disputed the DRC conclusions, Gov. Maggie Hassan immediately ordered the DHHS to stop placing new patients at Lakeview, as well as to prepare two reports examining whether Lakeview was compliant with regulatory requirements and whether Lakeview follows “best practice” procedures.

The first report cited “chronic and acute staffing deficits,” improper supervision, as well as shortcomings in training, communication and crisis management; the second, which was released on April 10 — which is also when Barry ordered the special-education program to stop — criticized the state’s oversight of Lakeview and led Hassan to call for a restructuring of the DHHS’s licensing unit.

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