Dozens of Violations Found at Bay Area Nursing Homes with Most Deaths – NBC Bay Area
State and federal public health regulator records reviewed by the NBC Bay Area Investigation Unit show that state regulators suffered COVID-19 damage despite dozens of apparent safety and inspection control revocations. We did not impose a fine on the largest bay area nursing home.
Hundreds of residents and staff were infected in 20 nursing homes, with records showing the highest number of deaths and infection levels during the pandemic.
Records show that 85% of facilities have COVID-19-related breaches, but so far fines have been imposed by the California Public Health Service or the Federal Medicare Medicaid Service Center regulators. There are only four.
Nursing home care advocates say 9,000 resident nursing home deaths if state regulators act early to enforce legislation already in books aimed at preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Emphasized that it would not have been so dramatic.
“Most of these deaths could have been prevented, and many of the infectious diseases could have been prevented,” said Dr. Charlene Harrington, an emeritus professor at the UCSF Nursing School.
According to Harrington, the pandemic had already hit a short-lived elderly housing with care and they had a hard time addressing the challenge. To make matters worse, she said the home’s efforts to find masks and other protective equipment were inadequate and the state’s test requirements were weak.
“We found that things were really getting worse from October,” Harrington said. “Infection rates have increased significantly not only in communities and states as a whole, but also in nursing homes, which made nursing homes take months to prepare and manage proper care, but things got worse.”
COVID-related deficiencies ranged from minor waste disposal and hand hygiene breaches to at least four “immediate hazard” breaches that regulators claim are at high risk of serious harm and death.
Of the four “imminent danger” violations, only one has ever been fined in Manor Care Health Services-Walnut Creek’s Thais Valley. The facility killed 21 people and is one of the most devastated local homes.
Nursing homes did not respond to interview requests. Records show that the Medicare and Medicaid Service Center fined the facility more than $ 100,000 last July. In a test report from the same day, federal regulators claimed an error in the standards for managing masks and other protective equipment worn around COVID-19-positive residents, and the facility had dedicated staff to take care of them. It states that it did not allocate.
“These cumulative failures that did not follow infection-based precautions resulted in a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 cases in institutions involving 54 residents,” the report concluded.
Records of other devastated homes reflect widespread violations of safety standards. Most facilities had PPE-related violations, and 10 facilities were seen with staff uncovered nose and mouth. At least eight people have committed COVID screening violations.
“These were common sense they should do,” said Jaime Patino, a union city council member who died last April after 84-year-old grandmother Emma caught the virus at Hayward’s Gateway Care and Rehab. I did. “They could probably have saved their lives.”
The gateway owner, who changed the name of the facility to St. Patrick’s Post Acute after the outbreak that infected 50 inhabitants and killed 19 people, talks to them in the NBC Bay Area during a visit to the facility. Did not respond to the request.
Inspectors responded to the outbreak and discovered a series of problems in April when her grandmother died, being shy at the age of 85.th birthday.
Patino said the facility was closed the last time she saw her grandmother alive, but she was able to talk to her through a window outside the room. When he visited her, she said she had no symptoms, but she soon became infected and died in the hospital a few days later.
“That was a lot of work,” said Patino. “A lot of tears and a lot of crying.”
In one of the revocation inspectors found, two staff members with COVID symptoms continued to take care of the elderly.
Despite suffering from “itching and malaise in the throat” on March 21st and 22nd and eventually being positive, one nursing assistant said on March 23rd “another assigned resident”. We continued to provide direct care to the inspectors. ” A licensed vocational nurse who also showed symptoms was added.
Eventually, the report found that 13 residents caring for them were infected.
Shortly after Patino’s grandmother died, inspectors saw Gateway staff failing to adhere to the social distance protocol. One person had a mask hanging around her neck while talking near other staff, the inspector said.
In light of the findings, state authorities have declared an “imminent danger” at the gateway, but the facility has not yet been fined by state or federal regulators.
Meanwhile, Alameda County prosecutors say they are still conducting an investigation launched at the gateway after residents and their families complained about loose safety standards.
“We need more accountability,” Patino said. “Changes can only be made through accountability, so we can get better care and service for our loved ones in these facilities.”
The California Public Health Service said the enforcement process could be time consuming and could result in fines for pandemic-related revocations. However, officials said early aggressive enforcement measures could have been counterproductive in the face of the urgent need to continue to protect the population.
“Focusing only on the implementation of early pandemic responses in a rapidly changing environment would not have been beneficial to the residents of the vulnerable nursing homes we serve every day,” the agency said. “We needed to find a solution to save as many lives as possible and limit the spread of COVID-19 among these very vulnerable people.”
Michael Wasserman, chairman of the California Long-Term Care Medical Association, said the pandemic indicated the need for reform, but Kiyosumi alone was not the answer.
“Systems that withdraw money from poorly performing nursing homes do not always solve the problem, and previously did not,” he said.
However, Harrington and other nursing home supporters told the NBC Bay Area that early enforcement would have sent a message that revocation would be taken seriously.
“If we had made an example of the worst offender early on, I think it would have sent a message,” Harrington said.
“We had to bear the entire enforcement system to ensure the safety of the inhabitants, not just the fines.”
Proponents are now working together to support a package of bills known as “protection plans” aimed at improving transparency and patient safety within the industry.
Henry Stern, a member of the state legislature (D-Los Angeles), one of the members behind the legislation, said:
After losing her grandmother, Patino wants to leave all the options on the table.
“We need transparency, more accountability and stricter penalties,” Patino said. “And certainly, I don’t want to see the law that would give these nursing homes an exemption.”
So far, the proceedings are not part of the current legislative reform package, Stern says. “As far as I am concerned, it’s not a beginner,” he said. “We managed to get over it without swallowing the bitter pill.”
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