On several occasions in the past, we have discussed Deficiency Reports released by the Department of Health related to Orange County nursing home Elant at Newburgh. The DOH has again released a Certification Survey detailing deficiencies that it noticed on a recent inspection of the facility. The report is dated March 2, 2012.
Among the areas for which Elant was found substandard was in promoting care that maintains or enhances each resident’s dignity. Specifically noted was an incident in which a resident, while in the cafeteria at lunch time, attempted to take food off of the trays of fellow residents. The resident in question informed nurses aides that she was hungry, and apparently the aides knew of her tendency to become agitated if others are eating around her before she gets her food. Despite this knowledge, the patient sat for nearly twenty-five minutes while those around her ate.
The resident’s actions during this period were described in the report as “distressed behaviors.” With knowledge of this propensity for distressed behaviors under the given circumstances, and with evidence of the behavior occurring on the morning in question, the staff at Elant did not proactively remedy the situation, instead serving the patient when her tray became easily accessibly in the lunch cart.
Serving a roomful of nursing home residents from a cart full of pre-made lunch trays is certainly not an easy task, and the facility does make a good point that the agitated resident’s tray was not readily accessible while the incident was taking place. At the same time, the actions of the staff, or inaction, were deemed by the DOH as an inappropriate response to curb the agitation of the resident. With this in mind, this incident made the Department’s Deficiency Report, as a violation of the dignity of the resident.