NEW YORK (WABC) -- Health inspectors cited roughly 75% of nursing homes nationwide for failing to have or follow a plan to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the past four years, between 2016 and January 2020, a "7 On Your Side" investigation has found.
According to the CDC, maintaining standards to prevent exposure to infectious diseases is especially important among nursing home populations who are often sick and elderly and at an increased risk for catching diseases like the coronavirus.
We reviewed federal inspection records from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and found nursing homes in New York and New Jersey performed slightly above the national average.
In New York, just more than six out of 10 nursing homes had received citations. In New Jersey, just more than seven out of 10 nursing homes had received citations.
Among the two states combined, of those cited, we found roughly two out of five nursing homes had been cited on more than one occasion in the past four years.
A closer look at the violations showed deficiencies varied in severity.
Many of the cases, involved employees failing to wash their hands, failing to wear the proper protective gear, or allowing medical equipment to touch the ground.
In nearly all of the cases, state health departments indicated nursing homes had corrected the concerns and re-trained their staff following the citations.
We reached out to several New York and New Jersey area nursing homes that had received multiple citations in the past four years for a statement regarding the citations and the steps the nursing home took to remedy the deficiencies.
As of the publishing of this story, only one of those nursing homes, Peace Care St. Joseph's, complied with our requests to provide a statement.
"Ensuring residents are cared for in a safe and healthy environment is always our top priority. As such, Peace Care's policies and procedures are consistently updated with resident and employee safety in mind. Increased in-services to educate all staff on infection control, specifically hand-washing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and cleaning and disinfection protocols are offered year-round. Any previous citations, as minor as they were, have been rectified. The New Jersey Department of Health noted, 'As of July 31, 2019, your facility has achieved substantial compliance with all participation requirements.' In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented our aggressive preparedness plan, which follows CDC, CMS, and N.J. Department of Health guidelines to carefully and proactively ensure the overall well-being for all entrusted to our care, our staff, and the community. Out of an abundance of caution, we have implemented restricted visitation effective today (Friday, March 13, 2020)." - Peace Care St. Joseph's.
DO YOU NEED A STORY INVESTIGATED? Danielle Leigh and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW. You can also contact Danielle Leigh directly:
Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideDanielle@abc.com