The Ohio Department of Health notified a Westerville nursing home that it plans to revoke its license May 22, one day after the federal government said it would stop making payments to the facility over poor patient care.

Uptown Westerville, 140 Old County Line Road, has 30 days to appeal the state's decision. If it fails to do so, the facility's license will be officially lost.

In a letter to Uptown Westerville, Amy Acton, the state's director of health, wrote that the decision to try and revoke its license was due to the "real and present dangers" faced by the facility's residents.

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Matt Dapore, the nursing home's administrator, said May 22 that his company is discussing whether it plans to appeal. On May 21, however, Dapore said the facility plans to close after it relocates its more than 100 residents.

Uptown Westerville, operated by Hillstone Healthcare, was given until June 20 by the federal government to move Medicare- and Medicaid-dependent residents into another nursing home or other accommodations that meet their needs. A team of state agencies is assisting in that process.

Despite Uptown Westerville's intention to close, the Ohio Department of Health took steps to revoke its license because "that's our duty under the Ohio Revised Code," spokesman J.C. Benton said.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid first warned the nursing home in December that it could lose its federal payments if patient care issues were not resolved.

Uptown Westerville's history of poor patient care includes instances of problematic weight loss, including one resident who lost 33 pounds over 31 days in the fall, and residents who say they weren't bathed for weeks.

As of May 8, Uptown Westerville had 109 residents, 86 of whom relied on payments from Medicare and Medicaid.

There are enough open beds in the other nursing homes in central Ohio for all the residents who need to be relocated, said Beverley Laubert, the state's long-term care ombudsman.

"We want to make sure people are selecting quality homes. We'll give them as much information as we have available," Laubert said of the relocation process.

Uptown Westerville was bought by Hillstone Healthcare from HCR ManorCare in December.

Hillstone operates 39 nursing homes in Ohio, according to BusinessWire.com. Its other central Ohio facilities include Columbus Colony Elder Care in Westerville and Isabelle Ridgway Post Acute Care Campus on the Near East Side.

Of the five long-term care facilities in Ohio that CMS is monitoring closely due to a history of problematic care, three are operated by Hillstone, including Uptown Westerville and Isabelle Ridgway.

Some residents of Uptown Westerville said they thought CMS' decision to end its payments to the nursing home were premature.

Two residents told The Dispatch on May 21 while sitting outside in a gazebo at Uptown Westerville that the quality of care had improved since Hillstone took over.

Krista Beaton, a 29-year-old resident who had lived at Uptown Westerville for about a year, said she had been unhappy with the facility under old ownership, but the nurses have become more responsive recently to her needs.

"They just needed more time," said 64-year-old Paula Polen, a resident of almost five years. "That's why I'm so sad about the whole thing."

The Ohio Department of Health conducted seven inspections between January and the first week of May, all of which found the facility was still out of compliance.

Uptown Westerville is at least the eighth central Ohio nursing home to lose its Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements since July 2013, according to state officials.

kstankiewicz@dispatch.com

@kevin_stank