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Judge Sides With AHCA In Nursing Home Approval

An administrative law judge Monday sided with the state Agency for Health Care Administration in a certificate of need dispute about building a 120-bed nursing home in Polk County.

In the certificate-of-need process, the state must sign off on new or expanded health-care facilities. It has become a high-profile issue during the past year, particularly because House Republican leaders have sought to end certificates of needs for hospitals.

In Monday's decision, Judge James H. Peterson III recommended that the agency go ahead with approving a nursing-home certificate of need for Lakeland Oaks NH, LLC, a subsidiary of Greystone Healthcare Management Corp.

In October 2014, the agency published a need for 203 additional nursing-home beds in Polk County and in February 2015 backed Lakeland Oaks' proposal to build a facility with 120 beds.

The agency's decision was challenged by another applicant, Eighth Florida Living Options, LLC, an affiliate of Florida Living Options, Inc. But in a 47-page recommended order, Peterson agreed with the agency's stance.

"The facts … demonstrate that Greystone has proposed a well-funded, financially feasible, well-designed skilled nursing facility that will improve Polk County access to short-term and long-term skilled nursing care for residents of Polk County,'' Peterson wrote.

The issue now goes back to the agency for a final order.