Vestal Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center Cited for Choking Incident

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Vestal Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has received 17 citations for being in violation of public health code between 2018 and 2021 after a total of 6 inspections and state inspectors found multiple deficiencies within the facility.

Vestal Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center received 17 citations for violations of public health code between 2018 and 2021, according to New York State Department of Health records accessed on May 20, 2022. The Vestal nursing home’s citations resulted from a total of six inspections by state surveyors. The violations they describe include the following:

1. The nursing home did not adequately protect residents from accidents. Section 483.25 of the Federal Code mandates that nursing homes must ensure residents receive adequate supervision to prevent accidents. A November 2020 citation found that Vestal Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center failed to ensure such. The citation specifically describes an instance in which a resident “had a choking episode on a whole Brussels sprout and subsequently expired.” In an interview, a Licensed Practical Nurse remarked that the resident “was known to put too much food in their mouth and unit staff were aware the resident needed their food cut up,” adding that when they checked the resident after the incident, “their mouth was full and the items on the tray were barely cut and the Brussels sprouts were whole.” A plan of correction undertaken by the facility included the education of nursing staff. 

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The nursing home was cited for failing to protect the residents from accidents, they did not maintain a sufficient amount of nursing staff   to assure safety after a resident died from a choking incident, and the nursing home did not meet food safety standards.

2. The nursing home did not ensure the adequate employment of competent nursing staff. Section 483.35 of the Federal Code mandates that nursing homes must employ sufficient nursing staff with “the appropriate competencies and skills sets to provide nursing and related services to assure resident safety and attain or maintain the highest practicable… well-being of each resident.” A November 2020 citation found that Vestal Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center failed to ensure such. The citation specifically describes an instance in which the above-described resident was provided with recommendations “to cut food into small pieces, assist at meals, and provide to take small bites of solids and frequent sips of liquids was not implemented as recommended,” and who subsequently expired after a choking episode involving a whole Brussels sprout. In an interview, the Unit Assistant who passed the resident their meal tray said “she had not been trained on what to do when passing trays and it was not an activity she completed at the facility.” A plan of correction undertaken by the facility included the education of the Unit Assistant.

3. The nursing home did not meet food safety standards. Under Section 483.60 of the Federal Code, nursing homes must procure food from sources considered satisfactory by authorities, and ensure the sanitary storage, preparation, distribution and service of that food. An August 2019 citation found that Vestal Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center failed to ensure such. The citation specifically describes an observation that the facility’s main kitchen reach-in cooler “had non-potable condensation dripping from the top of the cooler and there was a container of egg salad with a cracked lid exposing the egg salad to open air.” In an interview, the facility’s Assistant Food Service Director said that a sheet pan in the cooler, intended to catch dripping  water, “should be changed twice daily,” and that there was a work order to fix the cooler. The AFSD added that “The egg salad should have been covered securely to avoid contamination and kitchen staff was aware not to use broken or damaged items.” A plan of correction undertaken by the facility included the discarding of the exposed food and the re-education of dietary staff.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC 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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