For-Profit Nursing Homes in NY and NJ Allowed to Evade Public Health Requirements
Although New Jersey and New York have laws in place to ensure that nursing home operators are regularly monitored and reviewed for “character and competence,” the reality is that not every nursing home is held accountable for its failures. That’s because regulators don’t always have access to enough information to take action against a nursing home that is harming patients.
The case of Charlie Stewart should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone with an elderly loved one in an NJ or NY nursing home. It was late 2012 and Stewart’s 60th birthday was approaching. Since suffering a diabetic emergency six weeks earlier, Stewart had temporarily resided at Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, a nursing care facility in Long Island, NY. However, instead of being released from the facility with a clean bill of health so that he could celebrate his upcoming birthday, Stewart was rushed to the hospital with a dangerous fever.
When Stewart’s wife, Jeanne, arrived at the hospital, she was shocked by what she saw – and smelled. According to Jeanne, her husband’s flesh was rotting and his entire shin was covered with dark wounds. Doctors soon confirmed Jeanne’s fears; the infection on Stewart’s leg was life-threatening and required amputation.
The Avalon Gardens nursing home is one of many for-profit nursing homes run by SentosaCare, LLC. Although the corporation reportedly has a history of code violations, fines and patient complaints, it has still managed to expand its reach across New York. In fact, SentosaCare now has 25 facilities and is currently the largest provider of nursing homes in the state.
The nature, and number, of the company’s violations should have made it extremely difficult for the nursing home provider to meet the state’s stringent standards when it comes to nursing home reviews by government regulators. ProPublica, a highly respected newsroom that specializes in investigative journalism, recently conducted its own independent review of NY’s nursing home oversight system and found that there are significant “gaps in the state’s system for vetting parties who apply to buy shares in [nursing] homes.”
For example, despite the NY Public Health Law that requires a “character-and-competence” review of potential buyers before an ownership change can be approved, the state’s governing body rarely enforces the law. As a result, individuals like Charlie Stewart end up suffering as the big businesses and corporations that run nursing homes in NY and NJ continue to put profits ahead of people.
You trust nursing homes and other care facilities to treat your elderly loved ones with the care and consideration they deserve. Sadly, some nursing homes and their employees abuse this position of trust and neglect elderly patients. Sometimes this neglect or mistreatment places the patient at risk of illness, injury or even death. Nursing homes that fail in their duties of care need to be held accountable so that no one else suffers in the future.
To learn more about Charlie Stewart’s nursing home case, view the ProPublica.org article entitled, “How N.Y.’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm.” http://www.propublica.org/article/new-york-for-profit-nursing-home-group-flourishes-despite-patient-harm
If your elderly relative is suffering due to nursing home abuse or neglect, you need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who won’t back down to the home’s administrators, attorneys or insurance company. Barry Sugarman of the Sugarman Law Firm will investigate your case and hold the negligent parties responsible so you get the justice and compensation you deserve.