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A Georgetown nursing home was added in September to a list of poorly performing facilities. File/Grace Beahm/Staff

Two facilities in Columbia and Myrtle Beach became the latest in South Carolina to be named on a congressional list of poorly performing nursing homes, while one in Florence that had been previously identified was officially flagged for the government to focus on. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal office in charge of administering the programs, keeps a list of nursing homes that consistently don't meet standards and agreed to release a monthly update to that list in June. 

The most severe offenders are then designated as Special Focus Facilities. This designation increases the frequency that a nursing home must be inspected and sets guidelines for where and how quickly a facility must improve.

Magnolia Manor in Columbia and The Retreat at Brightwater in Myrtle Beach were added to the list of candidates for the SFF program in July. Commander Nursing Center in Florence, which was a candidate for the program in June, was officially added as an SFF program.

Commander Nursing Center had 30 health citations at its most recent available inspection in July 2018, according to Medicare.gov, which periodically updates a nursing home database with health and safety information. South Carolina facilities typically average seven citations, the website states. 

The facility was fined over $115,500 in 2018, records show. 

Magnolia Manor had 25 health citations in a February 2019 health inspection and paid a $33,363 fine in 2017. The Retreat at Brightwater had 16 citations in an April 2019 inspection and has not been fined in the last three years. 

None of the three facilities returned phone messages seeking comment. 

Riverside Health and Rehab in North Charleston was previously the only nursing home in the state designated as an SFF facility. However, it recently graduated from the program after 25 months, according to the July CMS update. 

The initiative to increase transparency around poorly performing nursing homes began after a bipartisan inquiry from Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican. The inquiry prompted CMS to release a list of SFF candidates for the first time and commit to releasing a monthly list thereafter.  

“It is outrageous that we continue to hear stories of abuse and neglect in nursing homes that do not live up to these high standards,” Casey said in a news release at the time. “Choosing a nursing home is a difficult and often painful decision to make. Individuals and families deserve to have all the information available to choose the facility that is right for them.”

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Contact Conner Mitchell at 843-958-1336. Follow him on Twitter at @ConnerMitchell0.

Conner Mitchell is a Kansas native covering Berkeley and Dorchester counties for The Post and Courier. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked previously at the Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World and Palm Beach Post.