NY State Department Shares Responsibility For Death Trap Nursing Home

By Jack Halpern, CEO, My Elder

Many nursing homes fail to provide their residents quality elder care and MyElder is ready to respond to any elder care crisis and arrange for nursing home placements.


Hurricane Sandy announced itself by tossing a section of Boardwalk against the Promenade nursing home in Rockaway Park, Queens, blowing out its windows and sending waves washing through the first floor.

Read New York Times Article http://ow.ly/fgEMY

This nursing home like so many others in New York State has been consistantly rendering sub-standard care to thousands of elderly and disabled adults, never even complying with minimum standards of care as required by State and Federal Law. Every year the negligent and irresponsible New York State Department of Health rubber stamps the horrendous care in these facilities.

If dogs were given the type of care that is given to these residents, the whole world would be protesting in huge numbers, arrests would be made, and reform would be swift. Politicians would be lining up in front of the media with an outcry for justice.

The Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, NY is dotted with some of the worst nursing homes, and adult homes in the country. Also lining the peninsula are many adult homes that are just storage places for neglected elderly mental patients. I call this stretch of Nursing and Adult Homes, “DESOLATION ROW“.

Again I have to use the dog analogy. Imagine a kennel that has young dogs, old dogs, sick dogs, starved dogs, tortured dogs, and dogs of all shapes and sizes, and place them in the same cage, and add minimal supervision. You get the picture?

While most Americans envision a nursing home as a place that has only elders, these facilities do not limit their population to just the elderly. They are only interested in filling a bed for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. These facilities typically have a greater share than most, of residents with moderate to severe mental disease, residents with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, young and old. There are also many homeless people in these facilities.All these residents are mixed together in the same wards. Special programs is non-existent.

These nursing homes like many in New York State are severly understaffed. 90 percent of the staff members work two shifts a day, sometimes three. Patients are routinely chemically restrained with some of the most dangerous drugs around.

While staff members have to go through backround checks (many of the nursing homes don’t comply), residents do not. Danger is a way of life for the residents in these facilities.

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Year after year the NY State Department of Health’s poorly trained inspectors come to do their supposedly unannounced annual inspection (while the homes don’t know the exact date that surveyors will be arriving, they always arrive within a month or two before or after the last year. I worked in a nursing home in 1988 that had it’s unannounced inspection in August or September every year. In 2011 it was still in August), and every year they cite the facilities with the same violations they had the year before, and life goes on.

Promenade Nursing Home, the subject of the NY Times Article, is one of the worst of the bad homes in the Rockaways.

Over the past few years inspectors determined that operators have failed to:

1. Provide necessary care and services to maintain the highest well being of each resident.
2. Make sure that residents receive proper treatment and assistive devices to maintain their vision and hearing.
3. Allow the residents to refuse treatment or refuse to take part in an experiment and formulate advance directives.
4. Make sure each resident has the right to have a choice over activities,
their schedules and health care according to his or her interests,
assessment, and plan of care.
5. Make sure menus meet the resident’s nutritional needs and that there is a
prepared menu by which nutritious meals have been planned for the
resident and followed.
6. Store, cook, and serve food in a safe and clean way.
7. Make sure that each resident’s drug regimen is free from unnecessary
drugs; each resident’s entire drug/medication is managed and
monitored to achieve highest well being.
8. Provide enough notice before discharging or transferring a resident.
9. Protect each resident from all abuse, physical punishment, and being separated from others.

Inspectors determined that the building did not have:

1. Corridor and hallway doors that block smoke.
2. Construction that can resist fire for one hour or an approved fire extinguishing system.
3. Exits that are accessible at all times.
4. Portable fire extinguishers.
5. Proper medical gas storage and administration areas.

Sandy brought a hurricane, but Promenade Nursing Home was already a disaster. The DOH will investigate and blame all on the owners, and Promenade will reopen just in time to ruin many more lives. In Rockaway Nursing Homes, life is not a beach.

My Elder responds nearly instantly to any elder or eldercare crisis… in order to provide nursing home intervention, arrange for immediate placements, prevent evictions from nursing homes, handle a hospital crisis, and respond to other eldercare challenges. But we can’t solve an ugly and dangerous situation unless you contact us immediately. Often waiting a day is as harmful to a family member as taking no action at all. If you and your family have an elder family member that is facing one of these challenges, don’t wait. We can resolve it quickly. Contact us TODAY by calling us directly at (212) 945-7550.

My Elder provides elder advocacy services to families. Talk to us about long-term planning, finding the right home for your loved ones, preventing crisis and abuse, and ensuring they receive the best care possible.