NY State Comptroller Audits Department of Health - Enforcement of Nursing Home Violations Needed

Mike Groll Mike Groll, APPhotograph by Mike Groll, AP

Laurie Kash of Last Stop Advocacy Project of Rochester talks about her mother’s experience at a nursing home during the NY State Comptroller’s Press Conference on Nursing Home Reform in Albany, on February 22, 2016.

The NY State Comptroller’s Office released a 28-page audit which concludes that the State Health Department should improve enforcement of nursing home violations, fines are delayed for up to six years, and nursing homes are cited repeatedly for problems with limited consequences. “The state Department of Health (DOH) needs to fix problems and delays with how it is assessing fines to nursing homes after violations are found, according to an audit released today [Monday, February 22, 2016] by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Click here to read NYS Comptroller’s Press Release and Audit

Here is Laurie Kash’s speech at the comptroller’s press conference.

Below is a 2 minute clip of the Comptroller’s Press Conference regarding the Nursing Home Surveillance Audit, where Comptroller DiNapoli is joined by speakers Laurie Kash, Executive Director, from Last Stop Advocacy Project of Rochester; Gail Myers, Deputy Director, Statewide Senior Action Council; Jack Kupferman, President, Gray Panthers; and Richard Mollot, Executive Director, Long Term Care Community Coalition.

During the Comptroller’s Press Conference on Monday, Laurie Kash spoke about her mother entering a nursing home on her own two feet, physically intact, in what was going to be a temporary stay. After three weeks – over a 13 day period, her mother became paralyzed from the chest down … Kash states, “When I speak about my mom – what happened to her did not happen in a vacuum, could not have happened in a vacuum. There are countless people every day suffering. You read it in the newspapers. What we’re hoping this [the NY State Comptroller’s Audit of the DOH] opens the door for is really active change, and a movement to start to address our legislators, and the DOH, and nursing homes. Because nursing homes are harming people and it needs to stop.

Comptroller DiNapoli’s Press Conference has been a great success and has generated national interest. We are truly grateful that a governmental agency has audited the New York State DOH. Here is one news media link, among many:

State Health Department blasted for enforcement of nursing home violations, by Tom Precious of The Buffalo News

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Read Laurie Kash’s full op-ed from the Albany Times Union.

Listen to Laurie Kash's appearance on WXXI Radio

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Laurie spoke on the subject of nursing home abuse, neglect, and reform on a recent episode of Connections with Evan Dawson. Connections is broadcast on WXXI Radio, Rochester’s PBS/NPR station.

Play the episode below:

RCTV Profiles Last Stop Documentary Founder, Laurie Kash, May 2016

Here is the May 2016 RCTV Article:

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READ FULL STORY HERE

At some nursing homes, deficiencies repeat over and over

Laurie Kash was quoted in a recent Watchdog article in the Democrat and Chronicle.

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From the article:

Some advocates say the Department of Health does not adequately address neglect or mistreatment in the deficiency reports, and families are forced to file lawsuits in order to document problems and hold nursing homes accountable.

“We were very committed to bringing it into the public record,” said Laurie Kash, whose mother suffered a serious fall in 2006 at the Jewish Home in Brighton. For more than a week, staff was unresponsive to her complaints of being injured, Kash said. The family brought in their own physician, who determined Gertrude Kash had suffered a spinal fracture, and that lack of prompt treatment led to irreversible paralysis from the chest down.  She died in 2009.

Kash said the family sued after a Department of Health investigation concluded no harm had occurred. “We knew that what happened to my mom couldn’t have happened in a vacuum.” She said it was only through the discovery process that the family was able to get access to medical records and take depositions from doctors and staff.  “We saw every inch of the way where my mom was neglected,” she said. “It was traumatizing to learn what really happened.”

As part of the settlement in her lawsuit, Kash insisted that she not be blocked from discussing her mother’s experience. But often, these cases end in settlements which keep those details secret and prohibit the families from discussing what happened.

Laurie Kash’s guest essay in the D&C from April 3:

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Reform at nursing homes key

By Laurie Kash, Commentary
Published in the Albany Times Union Op-Ed section, February 29, 2016

Laurie Kash (in red) at Comptroller DiNapoli's press conference

Laurie Kash (in red) at Comptroller DiNapoli’s press conference

Here is how bad it has gotten: New York state nursing homes cause pervasive harm. And the state Department of Health‘s lack of oversight is a major part of the problem.

My late mother was a poster child for the horrors that occur daily in these facilities. The catastrophic breakdowns in her care did not happen in a vacuum. Horribly, hers is one of many flesh-and-blood examples of systems that are in utter failure and must be held to account.

I learned all of this only after my mother walked on her own two legs into a nursing home for temporary care, physically intact, and three weeks into her stay became a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. She was injured in repeated episodes of neglect and medical malpractice at the institution entrusted with her care.

The background: One night my mother fell after a nurse failed to follow a physician’s order detailed in her care plan. Her subsequent 13 days of progressive neurological deterioration and severe pain were ignored or dismissed as exaggerated. Instead of receiving the critical treatment, she was referred to a psychiatrist.

It took a brief neurological examination by my brother-in-law, a heart surgeon who came from out of town, to diagnose her paralysis. But by then it was too late to reverse her spinal cord injury. My mother spent the remaining three years of her life confined to the nursing home, in a wheelchair, without autonomy or independence.

We filed a complaint with the Department of Health, which, after six investigations, dismissed most concerns. Despite clear evidence of neglect, DOH found only one deficiency and rated it as “causing no actual harm.” Meanwhile, outside expert physicians saw clear violations of the state’s standards of care, and the record shows that nursing home staff repeatedly violated their own care plans.

Our family filed a lawsuit against the nursing home and repeatedly asked the state to act. DOH stonewalled us. I prepared a “Contrast Study” in 2013, comparing my mother’s case to one in which the state shut down a nursing home, and submitted it to the state health commissioner. Even after seeing these documented disparities in applying federal and New York law, DOH took no meaningful action.

Finally, two years ago, I approached the state comptroller’s office with my study, along with fellow advocates at New Yorkers for Patient and Family Empowerment, the Gray Panthers, and other organizations. We asked for an Audit and Policy Analysis of DOH’s Nursing Home Oversight agency, which was last done 16 years ago in 1999. Thankfully, the comptroller agreed to conduct this long-overdue audit. It is what I hope will be the beginning of the resuscitation of our state’s lapsed nursing home oversight.

In my nine-year pursuit of nursing home reform, I have encountered countless family members experiencing agony and incredulity at the harm done to their loved ones by the state’s systemic dysfunction. New York nursing homes now operate with practical impunity.

This is intolerable. There are solutions. The oversight agencies and the nursing homes they oversee must be held accountable to standards that assure care with dignity for our most vulnerable citizens. This is not a privilege. It is a right.

I appeal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to stiffen enforcement with significant and consistent fines against nursing homes when they violate legal standards of care, and to preserve the right to sue — which has been opposed by the industry — to help ensure accountability.

And I implore every concerned citizen to act — on behalf of our shared futures and those of our loved ones — by contacting the governor’s office and their state Legislators to press for these reforms.

Our failure to act will literally be the death of us.

Laurie Kash lives in Rochester. The nursing home reform website is http://laststopmovie.com

LTCCC Highlights Last Stop Documentary Project

Here’s the article I wrote for the Long Term Community Care Coalition’s Winter 2014 newsletter.

LTCCC Winter 2014 Newsletter

Read the PDF here

Readers Write

Well said, Well done, and needs to be completed and shared throughout the states and the entire world.  Sending blessings your way.  You’ve done a service to all of us aging elders.

Thank you Laurie, Thank you!

 

Joyce A. K. Los Angeles

Audience Response to OutPut 14 Film Festival promo Last Stop

The response of the audience to my promo documentary was great.  The audience was engaged and asked many questions about the need for nursing home reform.  Thank you- Laurie Kash

Output ’14 Film Festival

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Join us Monday, April 21st, 2014 at the Cinema Theater for the RCTV Output ’14 Film Festival. The Last Stop promotional short will be playing that evening (show starts at 7pm). It will be a celebration of local filmmakers and producers and FREE screening of their works followed by discussion and audience Q&A.

For more information, visit
http://www.rctvmediacenter.org/happenings/output-14/

My Mother's Nursing Home Nightmare

Here is an article I wrote for the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC), an advocacy organization in New York State.

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Read the PDF.