SENIORS SUFFER NEEDLESSLY IN NYC NURSING HOMES MALONEY REPORT FINDS
Joined by Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Chris Parque, Project Director of Friends and Relatives of Institutionalized Aged (FRIA), and Rick Mollot, Associate Director of Nursing Homes Community Coalition, Maloney detailed findings in a study of ten city nursing homes with more than 3,000 residents, conducted at the request of Maloney by the Special Investigations Division of the House Committee on Government Reform.
The report finds that eight of the ten nursing homes violated federal health standards during recent state inspections, and seven of ten homes had violations that caused serious harm to residents such as improper nutrition and hydration, improper medical care, falls and accidents, and physical abuse. The nursing homes were within the 14th Congressional District, represented by Maloney.
Rep. Maloney said, "Even one resident in one home being neglected is an outrage, but this report showed that residents in seven of the ten nursing homes were put in harms way. This report shines a dismal light on nursing homes that are failing to ensure the health and well-being of our most vulnerable residents. It is not enough to simply say we are going to change the system, we must actively work to do so."
Borough President C. Virginia Fields said, "We need to look more closely at the transparency of the state's visits to nursing homes. This vulnerable population is not receiving the standard of care that they should. It is vital that we remain aggressive in demanding accountability in the care of our seniors in New York."
Richard Mollot, Associate Director of the Nursing Home Community Coalition of New York State, stated "We are not surprised by the findings of this report. There is a nursing home staffing crisis. In many homes, residents are harmed every day. There is just not enough staff to care for our most vulnerable citizens. The federal and state legislation being discussed here today is vital. Nursing homes must be mandated to have a minimum number of staff to care for their frail residents. Our thanks go to Representative Maloney and New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried for introducing legislation that will make this a reality."
Jean Murphy of FRIA said, "Upsetting as they are, the descriptions of nursing home neglect in this report are the rule not the expection. To protect residents, minimum staffing laws are an essential first step."
The report is based on an analysis of annual inspections and complaint investigations of ten nursing homes in the 14th Congressional District that were conducted between August 2000 and November 2002.
Eight of the ten facilities were in violation of federal health standards. On average, the eight non-compliant facilities were each cited for over six violations.
Seven of the ten violations were cited for violations causing actual harm to residents.
Violations cited by state inspectors include: improper nutrition and hydration; improper medical care; falls and accidents; and physical abuse.
Based on inspection data, nursing homes have not improved over the past two and a half years. In March 2001, Reps. Maloney and Slaughter (D-NY) released a report which found that New York's enforcement of federal nursing home standards was inadequate. The 2001 report found that New York inspectors frequently missed seriously health and safety violations during nursing home inspections.
State Assemblyman Gottfried said,"It is unacceptable for a nursing home to endanger our loved ones by failing to comply with standards that ensure proper care and attention," said NY State Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. "We need proper staffing levels and training. A nursing home should not take in new residents if it can't take proper care of its current patients." Assembly Member Gottfried will be introducing a bill in the New York State Assembly, the Nursing Diversion Program, which will require a nursing home to divert new residents to another facility when patient safety standards are not being met.
Jacqueline Case of the NYS Foundation for Senior Centers said, "Substandard care in nursing homes has solutions. First, we have to mandate that Medicare and Medicaid money be spent on care for the resident. Then we need to increase the number of staff caring for our loved ones. Then we need to increase the hours of training for the caregivers, so they can provide the quality of care that our loved ones deserve."
Rep. Maloney supports legislation that can improve substandard care in nursing homes. Upon its reintroduction in the 108th Congress, Rep. Maloney will again cosponsor Rep. Henry Waxman's Nursing Home Quality Protection Act (H.R. 2677 in the 107th). This legislation requires minimum nurse staffing standards; imposes tougher sanctions on substandard facilities; increases public disclosure about nursing home conditions; institutes background checks on employees; and increases Medicaid funding. Rep. Maloney also support Mr. Waxman's Nursing Home Staffing Improvement Act. This bill requires minimum nurse staffing standards recommended by HHS and increases Medicaid funding to pay for the staffing. Additionally, she is a cosponsor of the Medicare Beneficiary Skilled Nursing Protection Act, H.R. 967 - legislation to restore funding cuts in Medicare reimbursements for skilled nursing care providers.
The Bush Administration has weakened enforcement of Nursing Home standards:
In September 2001, the Administration proposed reducing the frequency of nursing home inspections from the current requirement of once a year to a proposed requirement of once every three years.
In November 2001, the Administration proposed changes that would have made it more difficult for nursing home inspectors to cite facilities for serious violations. After the 2001 proposals were publicized, the Administration quickly dropped them.
In its FY 2004 budget, the Bush Administration has proposed cutting spending on nursing home inspections - they requested only $248 million, a $5 million decrease from the $253 million spent in FY 2002, despite the fact that most experts believe nursing home conditions are worsening.
President Bush's FY04 Budget threatens Medicaid coverage for people in nursing homes, as well as children, low-income seniors and the disabled. His block grant will harm states over time and will lead to either millions more uninsured, substantial reductions in benefits or significant reimbursement cuts to providers. Additionally, the Administration's Medicaid block grants could jeopardize decades-old nursing home protections.
Residents of nursing homes or their family members or friends can get help with nursing home problems at 212-732-4455, FRIA's free bilingual (English/Spanish) helpline, every Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 10:00 to 5:00 p.m.