Greenwich’s Witherell earns ‘disappointing and disturbing’ one-star rank from Medicare; leaders vow to do higher

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GREENWICH — After greater than a dozen violations were found earlier this 12 months, the Nathaniel Witherell earned a one-star rating in a recent survey from Medicare, with problems cited in patient care, including falls and alleged mistreatment, on the town-owned nursing center.

Larry Simon, chair of the Witherell’s Board of Directors, said this week that he and Witherell Executive Director John Mastronardi were working to handle and proper the problems.

“This shouldn’t be something we’re taking calmly,” Simon said, calling it “a variety of violations.”

“Clearly from my standpoint, the report is each disappointing and disturbing,” he said. “We’d like to proceed to strengthen the training and practices among the many staff. The staff needs to be a part of the hassle they usually should be motivated to offer higher care.”

But Simon said he was “optimistic” that the problems could be resolved.

Medicare, which provides federal insurance coverage for seniors, keeps a rating of nursing facilities nationwide. The listing for the town-owned long-term care and short-term rehabilitation center on the www.medicare.gov website include the general one-star rating, notes that it’s “much below average” and features a raised red hand.

Based on the web site, the Witherell was also assessed a effective of $11,911 over the violations.

A Medicare survey accomplished on March 9 found 16 violations resulting from an inspection and complaints over the past 12 months. The typical variety of citations for its facilities in Connecticut is simply 7.3 and eight.3 nationally.

The survey cited 4 investigations into allegations of mistreatment of residents, including instances during which residents were injured in falls but their care plans weren’t revised to handle the difficulty.

One incident involved a resident who fell out of a sling, which was the improper size, while it was in use to lift them, the report said. The patient sustained a head injury that needed eight staples to shut the wound.

Moreover, the survey found that Witherell, while investigating an allegation of mistreatment against a nurse’s aide on staff, “did not make sure the resident was treated in a way that maintained the resident’s dignity and respect.” A fellow worker provided a written statement saying that the nurse’s aide “was not speaking respectfully” to among the residents, especially ones that the aide “thought were hard to deal with.”

The worker’s statement claimed that the aide in query “behaved very nasty toward (the patients) and the members of the family would ask the nurse to remove (the aide) from caring for his or her loved one.” That nurse’s aide resigned their position, the report notes.

“Some people involved in these violations aren’t any longer there, they’ve left,” Simon said, adding that the worker involved within the incident with the sling was still on staff.

Other citations got on the Witherell after a patient’s family and doctor weren’t notified a couple of patient’s weight reduction; over the condition of toilet doors in several rooms; for damage and stains on bedroom ceiling tiles in a single room; a damaged bedroom wall in two rooms; and issues with kitchen maintenance.

Improper patient care and supervision were also cited, including a drugs cart left unlocked and improper vaccination records for patients.

All the citations were marked as “minimal harm or potential for actual harm” in the extent of harm classification.

“Everyone in management and the nursing office goes to be focused on improving training, improving documentation and improving every aspect of the care we give,” Simon said. “That’s our primary focus.”

Witherell’s rating from Medicare last 12 months had fallen from five stars to 3 stars — and now to at least one star this 12 months.

Witherell received 4 out of 5 stars from Medicare for staffing and quality measures, which the federal government said is taken into account to be above average. Quality measures looks at performance in areas of care resembling getting flu shots for patients, monitoring patients’ weights and checking in the event that they are in pain.

The standard measures rating features a five-star rating for long-term care residents at the ability.

First Selectman Fred Camillo said he was “very concerned and very upset” within the report.

“You possibly can’t ignore a report like that. We will likely be specializing in it and why these violations occurred,” Camillo said. “There could also be some easy answers for some, but there have been far too many for my liking and for a lot of others.”

Witherell’s management team that got here in after Mastronardi was hired in 2020 has been highly praised, and each Simon and Camillo said Mastronardi still has their backing.

“John has been terrific there for the 2 years,” Camillo said. Simon agreed, saying “John has the religion of the board, but it surely doesn’t mean that everybody else does.”

Mastronardi didn’t return a call for comment.

The one-star rating got here after a period of excellent news for the ability, which Simon said showed a profit for the 2021-22 fiscal 12 months, which ended June 30. This was the primary time Witherell had shown a profit after debt service since 2011. Much of the credit was given to the brand new management team for a greater deployment of staffing, less time beyond regulation and recent vendor contracts.

Also, the ability was commended late last 12 months as a “Best Nursing Home” by U.S. News and World Report.

The town has also been examining its continued ownership of the ability, which is the last municipally owned and operated one in Connecticut. It’s exploring whether a transfer of ownership ought to be done, but no decisions have been made.

“I even have said from day one which we absolutely have to have a look at the probabilities,” Camillo said. “This (report) just brings it much more to the fore.”

For more information on the survey, visit www.medicare.gov/care-compare/.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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