Health and Safety

Nursing Homes Must Be Safe for Seniors

February 29, 2016
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Publisher 

New York, NY – Health facilities throughout New York State are not addressing violations noted by the Department of Health (DOH). In many cases, poor quality of services and unsafe conditions have resulted in serious problems for seniors. This past December, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released an audit that called for better oversight of providers of adult day care centers. This report noted that the state Department of Health needs to more effectively monitor nursing homes.

“The state Health Department needs to strengthen its enforcement policies to better protect the health and well-being of nursing home residents across the state,” DiNapoli said. “DOH is not using the full array of enforcement actions available and this trend has recently worsened, taking the teeth out of a significant deterrent to unsafe practices and conditions. DOH officials deserve credit for their timely inspection of nursing homes but more must be done. Families need to know their loved ones have safe accommodations and providers are being held accountable when problems are found.”

The New York State Department of Health is responsible for ensuring that nursing homes maintain quality standards and comply with federal and state regulations. State audits have found that the DOH enforcement of violations have been inconsistent and not timely. Fines are often not collected for years. Ineffective DOH enforcement procedures continue to affect services to seniors. State Comptroller auditors analyzed data from calendar year 2014, and found the average time between when deficiencies are first identified and the issuance of fines was nearly four years.

Various documents and audits have indicated that nursing home residents suffer needlessly due to substandard care and neglect. Unsafe conditions in many nursing facilities have affected thousands of seniors.
Delays in processing penalties exacerbates the public’s concern that the this state is not adequately protecting nursing home residents. The state Department of Health must improve their inspection and enforcement methods of nursing homes. When problems occur penalties must be severe.

February 28, 2016

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