An Open Letter to Senator Ortt and Fellow Legislators:
Re: The Deplorable state of Nursing Homes in New York
As the child of an elder who was evicted-with 123 others in a real estate developer churn of a Nursing Home in Brooklyn, I’ve become fully engaged in these matters & very much appreciate your efforts to get some of the dynamics changed with the two proposed Bills. When I saw this story, in the link that follows, I wanted, with all due respect, to offer my take on what I’ve learned along the way with my personal experience & advocacy.
I’m betting the farm that what does get passed will be more optics than substance. What is required will never be written into law-Leading Age, NYSHFA, GNYHA & other LTCF Lobbying groups own too many NYS lawmakers who are currently in Albany.
I’m going to ask you, if you’re not aware of the ProPublica Oct 2015 investigation, to take a look at it & its indictment of the DOH/Public Health & Health Planning Committee.
And…three years later two of SentosaCare’s homes were just sued- same ‘players’
||Two city nursing homes sued for inadequate care and staffing
The lawsuits allege that understaffing at the facilities has led to infections and unsanitary conditions
Reality check…this is chronic…this is a business in which for-profit consortia with wide reaching tentacles own the Nursing Home industry in NY…and it has been cited that NYS has among the worst nursing home infractions & standards in America. Shame on us and shame on NY State Senators and Assemblypersons. It’s on you and the Governor!
A real solution? Jail time for criminal behavior towards the weak & vulnerable…overdue justice for victims of evil predatory harm…nothing less. It is an old story that NYS AGs don’t ever prosecute criminal owner/operators…especially former AG Schneiderman. The DOI refuses to investigate the deleterious DOH & PHHPC…we keep asking and they refer the problem home to…the DOH!? But the self-serving and abysmal Dept of Health which has abetted criminal owner/operators & rewarded malefactors with even more licenses-is the default department designated to monitor these very same miscreants!?! Unbelievable failure of stewardship. It must be changed.
In this particular matter you’ve addressed, the owners are parts of other consortia where sub-par facilities are a given-& rarely called to any serious account. Researching these names will provide you with chapter & verse.
“Comprehensive principal owners include Joshua Farkovits, Bernard Fuchs and Mordy Lahasky. They have ownership stakes in other nursing homes besides the ones in Buffalo and Albany.”
These Bills sound nice…but here’s the rub:
A) Will Cuomo sign off on them?
I doubt it.
B) Surprise visits?
May or may not help-& lack of money to hire sufficient investigators is problematic. As well, as long as there are no ratios to allow sufficient aides & RNs to be hired by nursing home ‘businessmen’ who frankly do not care a whit…continuing bed sores, elopements, psychotropic overmedication to quiet patients are the real problems that ‘surprise visits’ will not mitigate.
C) Independent monitors selected by the shameful PHHPC?
By the inept DOH?!? Believe me when I tell you-appointed ombudsmen (as has been the case) are tagged along by owner/operator management so that residents are fearful to speak about infractions.
“It would also require utilizing independent quality monitors, approved by the DOH, to directly supervise homes found to be non-compliant to ensure violations are addressed and fixed”
D) As for:
” The second of Ortt’s pending submissions will prevent any owners of nursing homes found with violations to acquire more properties until they’re rectified, after which there would be a two-year probationary period after the issues are resolved.”
It sounds good, Senator…but here again are three concerns…
First-because violations are able to be self-reported by the operator…the emptiness of this standard is self-evident.
Secondly, the churning within the consortia of ‘investors’ is a revolving door…deals back & forth…two years means nothing when digging deeper-percentages exchanged in wheeling/dealing sub-rosa exchanges.
Finally-what is most important, is that until misdemeanors become felonies…all penalties-such as they purport to be, are nothing more than chump change fines -built into the cost of doing business.
So please forgive my skepticism.
What can I suggest that would be a positive proposal-you may well ask? Allow a revolving team of Nursing Home Resident family members to meet monthly as the truly independent monitors/reporters to document and to challenge infractions, failures, harm. Enshrine them to be as integral to the determination as the ‘appointed’ monitors. An authentic, no-holds-barred consortia that is calendared in Albany each month to share their findings & present them to the Health & Aging Committees as to what is actually going on. The imbalance of legislator pols (present company excepted!) whose existence relies on self-serving donors will never mitigate this…even as there are more elders in need of more safe long term care facilities…it will not happen with these two Bills, in my humble opinion. When new Bills are written, include the public -we’re the honest brokers with no conflicting favoritism.
New Bills irrespective of how well intentioned MUST be given teeth. This deleterious Governor must allow strong enforcement & unequivocal punishments to be passed into regulatory oversight. Only then will we see prevention of the government sanctioned torment at life’s end for the most fragile souls…your loved ones and mine. “
A Concerned Citizen