Two Erie County Nursing Homes Pay State $3 Million In Probe Of Poor Patient Care
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that the state's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) has reached a $3 million agreement with the operators of two nursing homes The Waters of Aurora Park and The Waters of Orchard Park to resolve allegations that the homes failed to provide adequate care to patients during a recent three-year period.
The agreement follows a lengthy investigation by MFCU, which focused on the operations at the two facilities between 1999 and 2001. Based on the facts uncovered during the investigation, MFCU concluded that the nursing homes operated without sufficient skilled nursing staff to deliver basic care to all of their residents, that some residents did not receive the care that they were entitled to receive, and that some of the homes' employees falsified records to state that care had been delivered when, in fact, it had not been.
"The lesson to be drawn from this case is that nursing homes must provide sufficient nursing staff to ensure that every resident receives the basic care they are entitled to receive," said Attorney General Spitzer. "Homes that do not meet this fundamental standard will be held accountable."
To ensure that quality care is delivered at the Orchard Park and Aurora Park homes in the future, the agreement requires the appointment of an independent monitor who will report to MFCU and who will oversee care provided at the homes for the next two years. The two nursing homes will pay all costs related to the monitor. In addition, Neil Chur, the owner of the Aurora Park and Orchard Park homes, will initiate corporate compliance programs in other nursing homes that he owns in New York. Prosecutors stated that they have been informed by the state Department of Health that the Orchard Park and Aurora Park facilities are currently in compliance with Department of Health regulations and that residents are currently receiving adequate care.
Although the nursing homes did not admit that they engaged in any unlawful conduct, the state Department of Health conducted multiple inspections of the facilities in 1999 and 2001 and cited the homes for numerous quality of care deficiencies, including deficiencies that the department concluded had resulted in harm to patients. Among the deficiencies uncovered by Health Department inspectors during those years were findings that the nursing homes had:
- Failed to prevent and treat pressure sore wounds;
- Failed to give patients medications on a timely basis;
- Failed to properly provide necessary treatments and evaluations; and,
- Failed to provide appropriate toilet assistance to some residents.
The Health Department further found that in 1999 and 2000 the facilities did not have sufficient nursing staff to provide required care.
Today's agreement is the latest case to result from MFCU's statewide nursing home initiative, which has examined corporate institutional and executive structures for conditions leading to poor patient care and abuse. To date, the initiative has achieved several criminal convictions based upon New York' s penal and public health laws. Today's settlement with Orchard Park and Aurora Park represents an important use by prosecutors of state civil remedies designed to target fraud and illegality in the conduct of business.
The Waters of Aurora Park is a 320-bed facility located at 292 Main Street in East Aurora. It is operated by Aurora Park Health Care Center, Inc. The Waters of Orchard Park is a 202-bed facility located at 6060 Armor Road in Orchard Park. It is operated by the Orchard Park Health Care Center, Inc.
Attorney General Spitzer thanked the state Health Department for its assistance during the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General William Comiskey, Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Assistant Deputy Attorney General George Quinlan and Special Assistant Attorneys General Gary Baldauf and Toinette Randolph conducted the investigation. Assisting in the investigation were Assistant Chief Auditor Investigator Paul Bermel and Supervising Senior Investigator DeWayne Baker.