Health Department Nursing Home Initiatives: Internet Information, Surprise Inspections and Enforcement Actions are Announced
Albany, August 2, 1998 – The State Health Department today announced expanded initiatives to help consumers make informed decisions when choosing long term care facilities in New York, and to assure that nursing home residents throughout the state are cared for in a clean, safe environment that promotes their health and well–being.
Health officials said that starting in September, surveillance profiles of residential health care facilities will be posted on its World Wide Web site, followed by details of recent inspections. As a result, for virtually anyone with Internet access, consumer information about the quality of care provided by nursing homes in New York will be just keystrokes away, helping individuals to make informed decisions and to become fuller partners in their own health care, or that of their loved ones.
The surveillance profiles will be available at the State Health Department's Internet address (www.health.state.ny.us), under the category of Information for Consumers. Included will be facility–specific information, including the total number of substantiated complaints, the survey date and type, and a summary of findings for the past year. Consumers will be able to review the full survey profile document. The Health Department in the future plans to post detailed Statements of Deficiencies resulting from routine, focused or complaint investigations on the Web site.
Nursing homes are inspected by the State Health Department every nine to 15 months, depending on the number and severity of violations identified in the facility's previous survey. Governor Pataki's Executive Budget included funds for 33 additional staff, allowing the Department to re–inspect selected facilities more frequently and to conduct additional focused inspections.
The surprise inspections are intended to ensure that prior plans of correction have been implemented and are being maintained, or to focus on specific areas of concern. Expanded surprise visits already have been conducted at residential health care facilities across New York as part of the Health Department's continuing emphasis on quality of care in nursing homes.
One set of focused inspections, conducted between July 22–24, was directed at issues of nutrition and hydration—that is, determining whether residents are receiving sufficient quantities of food; whether meals are nutritious and palatable; whether help is provided to residents who cannot eat without assistance; whether residents are taking in enough fluids; and, when necessary, that they are encouraged to increase their fluid intake. State Health Department inspectors observed meals at facilities, interviewed staff, residents, and their families, and checked dietary records. Results indicated that most facilities are meeting or exceeding requirements.
The Health Department also is stepping up enforcement actions, including imposition of monetary penalties, against nursing homes in which significant or repeat deficiencies have been identified. So far this year, several facilities have been ordered to pay fines and prominently post a notice of violation. They are:
- Gold Crest Care Center, Bronx: faces a $4,000 fine for serious deficiencies involving actual patient harm;
- Beth Abraham Health Services, Bronx: fined $1600 for quality of care violations;
- Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center, Albany: fined $2000 for deficiencies including quality of care issues and resident rights;
- Dover Nursing Home, Brooklyn: fined $2000 for repeat deficiencies involving supervision of residents;
- Good Samaritan Lutheran Health Center, Albany: fined $6000 fine for repeat deficiencies involving resident activities of daily living;
- Ira Davenport Skilled Nursing Facility, Bath: fined $2000 for violations involving quality of care and nurse's aide competency;
- Seaview Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and Home, Staten Island: fined $2000, the maximum penalty for a single violation of Public Health Law, stemming from a complaint investigation following a resident death;
- University Heights Nursing Home, Albany: fined $11,000 for repeat deficiencies including quality of care and sanitary conditions.
In September, state health officials plan to target nursing home residents during a 16–county adult immunization pilot project, designed to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers from serious illness or death caused by vaccine–preventable diseases such as pneumonia and influenza.