California ruling threatens Brius expansion

Brius has mounted an 11th-hour challenge to a ruling by California regulators that denied the company licenses for five nursing homes and effectively has halted the company’s rapid expansion across the state.

Last July, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) denied Brius licenses to operate the facilities citing the company’s 386 serious patient care violations over the previous three years. Brius lost its first appeal in December after it failed to provide to provide legal documents ahead of deadlines, triggering a “Default Decision” against it.

Download (PDF, 371KB)

On May 17, attorneys for Brius asked a judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings and Appeals to overturn the Default Decision and reinstate its appeal. A ruling is expected later this year.

The facilities in question are:
Anaheim Point Healthcare and Wellness Centre
Brookdale Healthcare and Wellness Centre
Chico Heights Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre
Chico Terrace Healthcare and Wellness Centre
River Valley Healthcare and Wellness Centre

Brius is currently operating all of them while it exhausts its appeals process. Should the ruling stand, it could have major ramifications for the company, which has emerged over the past decade as California’s largest nursing home operator, accounting for one-in-14 beds.

Brius’ expansion plans were challenged in 2014 when California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed an emergency motion in federal bankruptcy court seeking to block the company from taking over 19 nursing homes. In court papers, she called Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz  a “serial violator” of nursing home rules.

If the CDPH’s denial is upheld, Rechnitz may find himself unable to win approval for new nursing homes in California. In denying his applications last year, state regulators noted that 38 of Brius’ 386 patient care violations put patients in “imminent danger” of death or serious harm. Altogether, 265 of the 386 violations were at a scope and severity level of F or higher, indicating more serious and widespread violations.

There is no reason to think that the CDPH would soon become more amenable to the prospect of Rechnitz taking over additional facilities.

In fact, Rechnitz may have reached the same conclusion as he has already begun expanding into Nevada and Texas.