Upstate Nursing Home Fined $44K for Multiple Deficiencies Related to Poor Care of Residents

The Washington Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, a 122-bed facility located in Argyle, New York, was fined $44,000 in February 2014 for numerous deficiencies related to quality-of-care provided by the nursing home. The fine is the result of Department of Health (DOH) inspections conducted in 2011. Formerly known as Pleasant Valley, the Washington Center was recently taken off the federal government’s Special Focus Facility program, a list of nursing homes throughout the country that have a history of providing poor care. While on the list, a facility agrees to implement changes to improve care. If the facility doesn’t make the necessary changes, the facility may be shut down by the federal government.

During a DOH certification survey conducted in September 2013, the upstate nursing home was cited for several deficiencies. For example, the facility was cited for failing to “maintain an effective pest control program so that the facility of free of pests and rodents.” Numerous residents and staff members complained that the nursing home was infested with flies, which often buzzed around residents’ heads as they ate their meals. In addition, the nursing home was also cited for failing to provide care that met “professional standards of quality.” For instance, one resident who had undergone a hip replacement sometimes complained of back pain. While her physician prescribed Tramadol, a painkiller, for the patient’s back in the past, DOH inspectors discovered that a nurse administered the narcotic on three separate occasions without a doctor’s order.

In addition, DOH surveyors discovered that a dementia patient was restrained in her chair for most of the day. According to DOH policies, a “resident has the right to be free from any physical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience.” According to the patient’s care plan, the resident was required to sit in a special chair with a locking tray while eating meals. Because the tray locked into place, the resident could not get out of the chair and was effectively restrained. On numerous occasions throughout the day, a DOH surveyor observed that the patient was sitting in the chair with the tray locked into place. The resident was observed to be yelling loudly on these occasions. The Director of Nursing admitted that staff members should apply appropriate behavioral interventions before sitting the resident in the chair.

The nursing home received many more citations than most facilities in New York. On average, most New York nursing homes received 2.2 citations per 100 beds. The Washington Center received 24.5 citations per 100 occupied beds. Most of the citations were related to quality-of-care provided to the residents. Overall, the facility received an overall rating of below average.

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