By Ron VandenBoom
Charles Sipler, operations manager at the Prairie Vista Manor nursing home in Big Sandy, received a cease and desist order on May 4, ordering him to stop performing any work in the state of Montana as a nursing home administrator without first obtaining an appropriate license from the Montana Board of Nursing Home Administrators (MBNHA).
The order states that the board recently reviewed a report alleging that Sipler had been providing services at the home that are "within the scope of practice for a Nursing Home Administrator" a position for which Sipler is not properly licensed.
The order warns that if it is learned that he is continuing to perform unlicensed activities, the board, "will proceed directly to District Court for that injunctive relief."
Lorri Sandrock, board Administrator for the MBNHA, said Thursday that the board received a complaint from a undisclosed customer of the nursing home and investigated the charge for 57 days before issuing the order. She also said the order is effective immediately.
Sipler, in a telephone interview Friday, denied that he has been acting as the administrator of the Prairie Vista Manor emphasizing that he is the operations manager not the administrator.
David Sande, Sipler said, is the administrator for the facility.
Sipler said he believes the complaint was made by one, or more, disgruntled former employee(s) who were terminated sometime after Dec. 5, when Prairie Vista began incrementally revamping its nursing staff, which, he adds, has been completed successfully. He claims that there have been a lot of things related to the employees terminations that have been misquoted or taken out of context by the former employees, but all of the terminations were done, "by the book."
"It's just a former employee throwing mud," Sipler said, summing up the complaint.
"The facility is in better shape now then we were before the change," he said.
While denying that he has been acting as the facility's administrator, Sipler did acknowledge that he has taken, and passed, the licensing test that would legally qualify him to be a nursing home administrator.
Sipler said the state has not yet issued the license, "because they need more information." He did not say specifically what the information is the state is seeking. He did say, however, that he is waiting for a hearing from the state and is confident he will receive a license.
Sipler emphasized that the order has done nothing to change the management or the day-to-day operation of Prairie Vista, which according to Sipler has a 99 percent occupancy rate one of the best occupancy rates in the state. He added that none of the terminations, or the cease and desist order, have had any adverse affect on the nursing home.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services Quality Assurance Division conducted a regularly scheduled monitoring survey Thursday and according to Sipler, had nothing but positive comments to make about the facility.
Sipler said the cease and desist order is a "whole lot of hubbub over nothing" and that the entire matter should be straightened out by June 1.