The shortage of personnel in nursing homes in NY is at a critical point: 96% of these centers did not have official inspectors at the beginning of the year

A very sensitive issue for New York, which also brings to the present painful memories and doubts, resonates again: “In the first three months of this year, the 96% of nursing homes and adult care centers in the Big AppleThey were not properly inspected.

The above statement is the conclusion of a detailed report released by AARP New Yorka non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the aging population in the country.

Throughout the state, there are 1,400 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other licensed adult care units, which house seniors and people with disabilities.

“It is appalling that almost none of these centers in New York City, and more than half of the centers in the state, have been inspected by the agency in charge of its supervision, in the first quarter of this year,” he said in a statement. Beth Finkel, AARP NY State Director.

Finkel directs the accusing finger specifically at Long Term Care Advocates Program (LTCOP)which brings together a group of people who are supposed to be the “eyes and ears” of residents and their families, who help them understand and exercise their rights to good care and quality of life.

Ideally, this defense organization should have one full-time employee for every five centers. But until now this possibility remains very remote.

For this reason, organizations that defend the elderly are urging a $15 million investment in the state budget next year, to allow the LTCOP to do its job.

“Contributions from the State of New York, to this program partially funded by the Federal Government, They are some of the lowest in the country.. Which makes providers overly dependent on volunteers,” he said. Lindsay Miller, executive director of the New York Association on Independent Living.

few hands

In the activist’s opinion, this has become “a big problem.” It is increasingly difficult to recruit volunteers for the program. Most of them are elderly and vulnerable to infectious diseases. For this reason, they have moved away from the centers.

In this sense, but from another angle, the Puerto Rican Jacinta Pereira, 58 years oldwho has his adoptive father hospitalized in a center in Queens, recounts that since visits reopened, after two years of pandemic restrictions, there is more family supervision.

“The truth is that there are many personnel failures. A single nurse is overloaded for many elderly. And that because of his position generates failures. But that does not mean that there is intentional mistreatment. Rather, there are service problems due to a lack of professional labor to attend to them”, testifies who In addition, he goes every afternoon to help a nursing home “wherever he can”.

Jacinta shares that she does not want to imagine what happened there, when family visits were suspended. right now the elders spend time without anyone being able to change their diaper, to mention just one example.

“I want to be fair. It’s not about bad intentions from the staff. The people who work in this sector do it with a lot of love. For this you have a vocation. But they are saturated. Imagine working with patients who have mental problems like my dad,” said the islander.

Only 27% of nursing homes adequately staffed

For his part, 1199SEIU, the largest union of healthcare workers in the countryin a statement last September, made clear his concerns about the crisis in the availability of staff of all kinds, in nursing homes in New York.

“During two years of the pandemic, the public hailed these low-wage workers as the heroes of the pandemic. However, now they are being removed from this sector, due to inefficient working conditions”, highlighted this union.

Another point that 1199SEIU highlights and that exacerbates the inefficiency of the services in these centers is that the owners of nursing homes are not implementing effective recruitment and retention policies and practices.

“Consequently, they are forcing staff to work in facilities, with an insufficient number of caregivers”.

The balances of this union indicate that only 27% of nursing homes they have an optimal average staffing level, especially on weekends.

The newspaper asked Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office for comment on the allegations by these organizations. Until the closing of this editionhad received no responses.

Voices of Elders: We will not turn the page

But there are other “pending accounts” linked to these centers, which the state president, ratified in office this week, will hardly be able to ignore.

The delicate controversy over the mass deaths in nursing homes in New York, during the beginning of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a new chapter in the coming weeks.

“We were just waiting for it to be known who the new elected leadership was, to continue with our petition of an impartial investigation into the deaths of our relativeswhich includes independent factors, not appointed by the same governor”announced the Puerto Rican, Vivian Riverafounder of the organization ‘Voices of Elders’.

Rivera refers to the investigation surrounding the administration of former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who until his last day in office, was the strong complaints center about his responsibility in the decision of the past March 25, 2020to transfer medically stable patients with COVID-19 ”to nursing homes, when hospitals were saturated with infected.

Although there is no precise number of deaths in care centers for the elderly in these circumstances, which are still confusing, some approximations state that reached 16,000 deaths.

That controversy ignited even more, after the Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, revealed the opening of a criminal investigation which details that allegedly the number of elderly people who died during the initial months of this crisis had not been true: According to the calculations of this complaint, it is estimated at least 50% more people died of the elderly, than the official number reported.

“Those of us who lost our loved ones due to that negligence, we are not going to bring back our parents and grandparents, but we are not going to turn the page either. We do want to guarantee that in this State there are more protections, for those who have to be inmates in nursing homes, for some reason,” Rivera said.

The Puerto Rican activist lost her mother, 78, in March 2020, in a rehab center in New York, while receiving therapy after surgery on his left knee.

It all happened during the hardest days of the pandemic and just when they began to be transferred infected patients to these centers.

Rivera says that after a few weeks she received “only the ashes” of her mother, one of the thousands of victims of COVID-19, interns in rehabilitation centers.

“This so grotesque situation is not yet clear. We will continue to demand that these places have greater supervision. That in the face of another pandemic or public health crisis, access to family members is not completely closed. Nobody really knows what happened there. And we will insist until the end on a true federal investigation”, stressed the spokesperson for ‘Voces de Ancianos’.

NY has a complaint center:

  • The New York Department of Health, Nursing Homes and Surveillance (ICF/IID) is the agency responsible for investigating complaints and incidents of nursing homes in the State, which are related to state and/or federal regulatory violations, in these cases the complainant must file a written complaint against a nursing home.
  • If you are unable to submit your complaint using a form, you may contact the Nursing Home Complaint Hotline (1-888-201-4563)which you can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • The hotline is manned by the staff of Surveillance of Nursing Homes and ICF/IID 8:30 am to 4:45 pm Monday through Friday. You can also leave a voice mail message outside business hours.
  • All complaints and incidents received about nursing homes are reviewed through the State’s Centralized Complaint Reception Unit and appropriate action is taken.
  • Some complaints require the state investigators conduct interviewsreview medical records, and perform other activities on the nursing home site.
  • The Complaint Resolution Unit, comprised of clinical professionals, will conduct other investigations and contact the facility to obtain medical records, facility records, and other information to determine the outcome of the investigation.
  • In cases where the nursing home is found to be in violation of the regulation, a citation will be issued to the nursing home. Then, the installation must present a plan of correction that is acceptable and correct poor practice.

Serious deficit:

  • 96% of the 301 senior centers in the five boroughs of New York City were not inspected between March 1 and March 31, 2022, according to the AARP complaint.
  • 78% received no supervision in this same period of time in Rockland and Westchester where 127 of these facilities are located indicates the same report.
  • 73% have staff failures such as nurses and caregivers, especially on weekends.

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