Feds: New York’s Utica Rehabilitation & Nursing Center Among Worst in the Country

Feds: New York’s Utica Rehabilitation & Nursing Center Among Worst in the Country

Utica Rehabilitation & Nursing Center is one of the lowest-performing nursing homes in New York, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which designated the nursing home as a Special Focus Facility (SFF) on January 22, 2019.

Special Focus Facilities have been designated as such because they have demonstrated a pattern of deficiencies. According to the Utica Observer-Dispatch, “State health departments receive a list of candidates for the designation each month from CMS and states may recommend that any home on the list receive the designation.” Once a nursing home is placed on the SFF list, it must be inspected every six months (twice as often as other facilities). If a long-term care facility does not improve, it can can lose its Medicaid funding.

Formerly known as St. Joseph Nursing Home and staffed by the nuns of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm, the nursing home was sold in 2015 to the for-profit corporation Personal Healthcare, which operates over 10 nursing homes in New York and Massachusetts, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.

Utica Rehabilitation & Nursing Center’s record shows a history performance issues, per recent inspections conducted by the New York State Department of Health and archived by ProPublica. According to an inspection report from January 8, 2019:

  • Staff allegedly failed to ensure that all residents sitting at the same table were served their meals at the same time.
  • Allegedly, not all residents were afforded the opportunity to participate in their care plan meetings.
  • Staff allegedly failed to ensure that a resident received proper respiratory care, as his machine used to treat sleep apnea was unclean.

In an inspection report dated September 18, 2018, government investigators reported that:

  • Allegedly, “the facility did not ensure that at the time each resident was admitted, the facility had physician orders for the resident’s immediate care.” One patient’s physician orders did not include short-acting insulin, leading to a resident being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). This resident’s glucose increased so much in such a short time that the doctor thought the glucometer was broken. According to the report “If [an RN] had a question regarding a medication on the instructions she would Google it and if that did not clarify her question then she would ask the physician.”
  • “The glucometer (blood glucose monitoring device) was not maintained in accordance with manufacturer instructions.”
  • Staff allegedly failed to prevent, and properly treat, pressure ulcers (also known as bedsores), including Stage IV ulcers exposing bone. In one case, a dressing had not been changed for five days and “[An LPN] removed the dressing and there was a large amount of brownish/blackish drainage saturating the dressing and it had a foul odor. Under the dressing there were two pressure ulcers, both with moist bright red wound beds.”

As a result of the September 18, 2018 report, the facility was fined $41,340, according to ProPublica.

Per the July 18, 2018 inspection report, in one instance, a resident’s family was purportedly not informed when the resident fell. Furthermore, the facility allegedly failed to notify the resident’s family that the facility had discontinued the use of side rails for all residents. These rails were benefitting this resident, but the report alleges that no meeting was called to discuss the issue of rails. The facility was fined $13,150.

The March 15, 2018 inspection report documented that Utica Rehabilitation & Nursing Center allegedly failed to prevent abuse. According to the report, “the facility did not prevent abuse or neglect when Resident #1 refused to exit the elevator and a facility staff member physically removed him from the area, lowered him to the floor, and held him on the floor until the resident calmed down.” According to the report, when asked why she did not use the code word to alert other staff that an incident was in progress, “[A CNA] stated the code for an aggressive resident was Dr. Strong and she did not call the code because maintenance responded to those codes and maintenance was already on the unit at the time of the incident.” When asked the same question, an LPN stated “she should have called a Dr. Strong and did not do that because she had called them in the past and no one responded to her page.” This incident was not immediately reported to the facility administrator, constituting another violation, according to the inspection report.

This incident was not the only citation on the March 15, 2018 inspection report, which also stated that the facility could not provide evidence that neurological checks were completed when a resident returned from the hospital after falling and hitting his head. Furthermore, in citing the facility for a fourth violation, the inspection report stated that one resident “had multiple incidents with other residents and staff members, caused injury to staff members, and the facility did not ensure staff were competent and trained in providing care to the resident.”

These publicly-available inspection reports alleged that Utica Rehabilitation & Nursing Center has serious deficiencies. If you have questions about Utica Rehabilitation and Care Center, or if you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to speak up and come forward. Call (877) 238-4175 or email to speak to an attorney.