In January of this year, the Department of Health surveyed Mary Manning Walsh, a nursing home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and found several deficiencies deemed severe enough to place residents at the home in immediate jeopardy. The facility failed to properly monitor water temperatures in resident sinks and bathrooms, leading to the potential for burns and scalding for residents.
Water temperatures in resident sinks were measured randomly by a surveyor in the middle of January. In some sinks located either in resident rooms or common areas, temperatures were measured as high as 136 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water from the sink in one particular dining area was measured at 183 degrees Fahrenheit. When interviewed, the nursing staff admitted to knowing of the extreme temperatures but failed to report them to maintenance. The Dietary Director stated that she was unaware of the extreme temperatures. The conditions were rectified before the Department of Health finished its survey, and as such the immediate jeopardy tag was removed.
Mary Manning Walsh was cited for three relevant deficiencies during this survey: failure to keep the facility free of accident hazards; failure to administer the facility effectively to obtain the highest practicable well-being for its residents; and failure to maintain a quality assurance committee. Aside from the obvious risks of burns to the residents, these dangerous water temperatures could have led to other accidents and injuries as well. As anyone who has ever burned themselves with hot water can attest, the first reaction is often to reflexively jerk back from the source of the heat. For an elderly individual who perhaps is not entirely steady on his or her feet, this could lead to falls and fractures. A severe burn may also lead to infection, and obviously pain and suffering.
Fortunately, there was no actual harm reported due to the extreme water temperatures at the home. Perhaps this deficiency report will lead to greater oversight by staff and maintenance in the future to ensure that no actual harm is caused.
The full deficiency detail, including several safety code violations found at the nursing home, can be accessed on the DOH website.