Rhinovirus Outbreak at Westchester Veterans Home Leaves Four Dead

sick-man-nursing-home-300x200In August of 2016, the New York State Veteran’s Home in Montrose, New York had a horrific rhinovirus outbreak. At one point, the facility in Westchester had one-out-of-every-four residents sick with the virus. Altogether, there were 58 documented cases of rhinovirus at the 221-bed retirement home for veterans. Sadly, four of the elderly residents with rhinovirus passed away.

Speaking to ABC News 7, Dr. Dennis Nash of the CUNY School of Public Health said that “If so many are affected by the same infectious disease, it does point to infection control issues. And that’s something that the state will want to be looking at right away.” At the time, the New York Department of Health told ABC News that they were investigating the outbreak and whether the nursing home facility had implemented sufficient infection prevention and control measures.

However, it does not appear that the New York Department of Health investigation went very far. The Department of Health provides a “profile” for each assisted living facility or retirement home in the Empire State. According to its profile on the New York State Veterans Home at Montrose, the nursing home facility had zero citations related to “actual harm or immediate jeopardy.”

In fact, the nursing home facility for veterans appears to be “above average” on its profile. Between November 2013 and October 2017, the facility only had ten “standard health citations” – below the state average of 21 per facility. Further, the facility also had a below average amount of the more-serious “Life Safety Code Citations” – five, compared to the statewide average of 13. Further, all of those “Life Safety Code Citations” occurred in 2015 or earlier.

The facility has not escaped the scrutiny of regulators completely, though. Over the past year, the Westchester County facility for veterans received seven citations.  All seven citations were listed under the category of “no immediate harm, but with the potential to cause harm.”

Here are several of the most notable violations that occurred at the facility over the past year:

  1. Failure to develop comprehensive care plans. Per Section 415.11 of the New York Code, all nursing home residents must have a comprehensive plan for their well-being and healthcare. In this instance, the facility was cited for violating this rule by not adequately documenting the use of an antidepressant to treat a patient’s anorexia nervosa.
  2. Failure to keep drug regiment free from unnecessary drugs. Per Section 483.25 of the Federal Code, a patient should not take “unnecessary medication” which is a medication used for an unnecessary purpose, an unnecessary duration, prescribed in an excessive dose, or administered without proper supervision. Again, the New York State Veterans Home violated this provision by prescribing an antidepressant for a patient diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, a medication that had not been proven effective in treating the eating disorder.
  3. Failure to provide care and services for residents to maintain the highest well-being possible. Per Section 483.25 of the Federal Code, each resident is legally entitled to receive the care and services necessary to “attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.” The veterans home violated this regulation by not ensuring a patient, who was completely unable to care for himself, received sufficient liquid and food intake to maintain his health.
  4. Failure to provide treatment or proper devices to maintain hearing and vision. Per Section 483.25(b) of the Federal Code, each facility must assist or otherwise provide medical care to ensure its residents have the ability to hear and to see. For one of the five residents reviewed by the Department of Health, the facility did not provide the necessary eyeglasses.





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