DSHS to continue transition of remaining residents at facility for persons with developmental disabilities following federal inspection

Release Date: 
Mar 08 2019
DSHS Office of Communications
Lisa Copeland
lisa.copeland@dshs.wa.gov
(360) 902-7844

OLYMPIA – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified the state this week that it is decertifying one of three facilities at Rainier School residential habilitation center in Buckley, and state officials said they plan to continue transitioning residents to better-suited facilities.

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has been working to address longtime concerns in its three facilities at Rainier School, called Program Area Teams or PATs. The decertification impacts PAT A. Through settlement agreements with CMS, DSHS maintained Rainier School’s PAT E certification. The agency is also in the midst of another settlement agreement for Rainier School’s PAT C and expects to learn soon the results of its most recent survey.

“While we were in the process of enhancing several PATs statewide, we recognized that sustaining certification for this particular PAT would be a challenge,” said Evelyn Perez, assistant secretary for DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration. “We know we’re better able to meet the unique needs of the residents at our other facilities. Though certification would have allowed us to continue receiving federal funding for all our residents while we go through this transition, it doesn’t disrupt any of our current and ongoing efforts at PAT A.”

State officials last fall started the process of transitioning approximately 45 residents from PAT A to other facilities better able to meet the specific needs of the residents.

For example, some residents do not benefit from continuous training and are better served in nursing facilities. DSHS has offered placement options at other RHCs that provide nursing services as well as other community placements. 

About 90 adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities currently reside at PAT A. The transition of these individuals should be complete by fall 2019.

After attempts by DSHS to enter into an improvement agreement for PAT A with CMS, CMS declined to do so, which is a different decision than the federal agency made regarding the other facilities. This decertification action results in a possible loss of approximately $1 million in federal funds monthly, though a significant number of residents will transition to settings where the state receives federal funding.

DSHS is reviewing the CMS report and considering next steps, which could include an appeal.

The moves are supported by Gov. Jay Inslee, and will ensure appropriate settings for DSHS clients. Additionally, the governor has proposed significant investments in his two-year budget to improve staffing levels at the RHCs as well as boosting community resources so people have more choices to live in areas where they are closer to family, friends and other support systems that help them reach their full potential.

Rainier School opened in 1939 and is one of four state-operated residential habilitation centers for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Rainier School is located in Buckley and operated by DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration. It spans more than 1,000 acres and houses approximately 283 residents with a $146.7M annual budget.

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