United Hebrew Geriatric Center Cited for Violations of Federal Law

resident-left-in-empty-hallOver the previous four years, the United Hebrew Geriatric Center in Westchester County received 22 citations for violating New York law on nursing home safety. The violations were all categorized as “moderately severe”, according to the New York Department of Health.

While the quality of care received by patients at the facility was higher in some areas of treatment compared to the rest of New York state, the facility scored below the state average in the number of residents who experienced a major fall (2.3 percent) and the percent of residents whose ability to move independently worsened during their long-term stay (14.4 percent). Further, according to the New York State Department of Health, 2.1 percent of nursing home residents received a diagnosis of pressure ulcers, or bed sores – a largely preventable type of harm.

According to the state’s inspectors, the following laws and regulations were violated by the United Hebrew Geriatric Center in the last several years:

1. The nursing home did not ensure its food was safe and prepared in a sanitary environment. Under Section 483.35(i) of the Federal Code, all nursing homes in New York “must store, prepare, distribute, and serve food under sanitary conditions.” The health inspector found that United Hebrew Geriatric Center had a “pattern” of violating this necessary health law. First, the inspector found “frozen ground meat placed in the refrigerator for thawing was not cooked in a timely manner.” The thawed meat, taken out of the freezer on October 14, 2017, was found by the health inspector on October 19, 2017.When the inspector asked the head cook about the facility’s policy on thawed meat, he replied that all meat must be used within three days. According to the USDA, thawed meat should be consumed within two days. Second, one of the refrigerators in the cafeteria did not contain a thermometer – necessary to ensure all refrigerated food stays at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Third, a certified nurse aide did not use “a barrier” – such as a glove – “to handle sandwiches.”

2. The nursing home did not ensure oxygen tanks were properly stored. Under Life Safety 101 regulations, all oxygen tanks (which are highly flammable) must be properly stored and handled. The Westchester nursing home violated this regulation when it did not have proper storage carts or proper restraints on the tanks.

3. The nursing home violated several fire-safety regulations. Under Section 483.20(k)(3)(i) of the Federal Code, all entries and exits in nursing homes must possess an illuminated sign. United Hebrew Geriatric Center violated this regulation because the illumination of some wall-mounted “EXIT” signs would end when the lights turned off. The nursing home also violated the fire-safety code because it did not have an automatic sprinkler system covering the entire property. In addition, the Westchester nursing home violated Section 483.30(a) of the Federal Code requiring routine testing and proper maintenance of sprinkler systems in several different ways. First, the Westchester nursing home did not perform monthly tests of its fire pump. Second, one of the sprinkler heads was obstructed by sheetrock. Finally, data cables and wires in two different areas of the facility (maintenance shop and IT room) were “secured to sprinkler pipes in the room.”

The attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents.  Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.

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