Between 2015 and 2019, The Knolls, a nursing home in Valhalla, New York, received 35 citations for violations of New York and federal health laws. That figure is three more than the statewide average of 32 citations, and resulted from a total of four inspections by the New York State Department of Health. According to the Long Term Care Community Coalition, The Knolls is considered a “Special Focus Facility Candidate,” meaning that it has been identified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as having a record of poor care that may merit inclusion in CMS’s limited list of facilities that receive enhanced oversight. The violations described in the Department of Health citations, which were accessed on November 4, 2019, include the following:
1. The nursing home did not properly store and label drugs and biologicals. Section 483.45 of the Federal Code states that nursing homes must label drugs and biologicals “accordance with currently accepted professional principles, and include the appropriate accessory and cautionary instructions, and the expiration date.” According to a July 2018 citation, The Knolls kept in storage an emergency box containing “2 vials of medication and 3 normal saline intravenous (IV) flush syringes [that] had past due expiration dates.” A nurse manager told a Department of Health inspector that emergency boxes “are supposed to be checked every night,” and that if materials are expired, a nurse is supposed to send a request to the facility’s pharmacy for replacement. Per a pharmacy consultant interviewed by the Department of Health, the medications in question “should have been removed.”
2. The nursing home did not properly enclose hazardous areas. Section 101 of the Life Safety Code requires nursing homes to protect hazardous areas with self-closing or automatic-closing doors. According to a citation issued in July 2018, The Knolls failed to properly separate hazardous “from other spaces by smoke partitions and doors.” An inspector observed specifically that “the corridor doors to the storage room and 1 of 2 soiled utility rooms” did not latch when they self-closed, with the doors instead resting on their frames. The facility’s Director of Plant Operations informed the Department of Health inspector that the door hinges in question would “be tightened immediately”
3. The nursing home did not ensure the procurement, storage, preparation, and service of food in a sanitary manner. Under Section 483.60 of the Federal Code, nursing homes must procure food from sources considered satisfactory by authorities, and ensure the sanitary storage, preparation, distribution and service of that food. A May 2017 citation found that The Knolls failed to ensure the proper storage of food in safe temperature ranges, specifically finding that the facility’s food service workers failed to adequately report and address a malfunctioning freezer “when recorded temperatures were in unacceptable ranges.” An inspector found that the freezer’s storage temperature was not kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit, but was instead recorded between 25 and 30 degrees during a 15-day period. During that period, “Potentially Hazardous Foods” were stored in that freezer, but were not kept in a “frozen solid state to prevent potential for food-borne illnesses.” The Department of Health found that this placed residents in “immediate jeopardy.” An inspector observed further that food service workers did not employ required food handling and sanitary practices.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.