For profit companies now own 60% of New York State’s nursing homes and an analysis in 2009 by the GAO shows that they have poorer staffing and quality of care according to a news report last week by the New York Nonprofit Media. And, the report said that Families for Better Care, which advocates for nursing home patients nationwide is likely to give the state an “F” for the third year in a row for its poor monitoring of problems in nursing facilities. It ranks the state 44th in the country in terms of quality.
There are 105,000 New Yorkers, mostly seniors, living in nursing facilities in the state. Brian Lee, the head of the organization and former long term care ombudsperson for Florida, said in the article, “You guys (New York) have some of the worst nursing home care I’ve ever seen.”
Complaints to the New York State Attorney General’s office about abuse and neglect rose by 18% over the past two years, from 1392 to 1644 between 2013 and 2015. There is always a caution that these figures could reflect better reporting – though that is not clear either.
The news article also noted that some operators with poor records are being approved to expand their operations to other nursing homes in the state. The state’s largest for profit chain is SentosaCare which now has 25 facilities “despite a record of repeat fines, violations and complaints of deficient care,” according to the article. In recent years, many formerly county run facilities have been privatized or management has been outsourced to a private company. National chains are not allowed in New York but there are regional chains like SentosaCare.
The State comptroller’s office issued a report saying the the Department of Health was “generally meeting its obligations” but there were delays because of short staffing of “up to six years between when the violation is cited and the resulting fine is imposed,” the article said. There is only a single part time staff person who is processing fines and conducting investigations according to the report.
The report quoted, Richard Mollot, Executive Director of The Long Term Care Community Coalition, who said the state health department has abdicated its role as the state agency responsible for enforcing quality care in nursing homes. “In essence, they don’t see their role as a regulatory agency, even though they are a regulatory agency,” he said. “That’s really what the problem is.”