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Long Term Care Ombudsman Program failed to visit 59% of NYS nursing homes

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The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is a state government program responsible for overseeing all nursing homes and care facilities.

The program is designed to protect the elderly in New York State by visiting all homes and facilities they reside in. This program failed to visit more than half of the homes in the state. Now, the state blames the lack of visits on the low number of volunteers willing to work for the program.

According to Lohud, the program failed to visit 59% of the facilities they needed to during a three month period. This wasn’t revealed until a report was released by AARP New York, an advocacy group for the elderly. The worst performing regions included parts of the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and the Hudson Valley. Data used to determine this was from January through March, which was the most recent data available.

The programs are required to report data collected during their visits to federal regulators, but there isn’t a rule about the number of visits required. Some facilities simply aren’t being visited. In Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties 79% of their facilities went without a visit. In Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties, 73% of facilities had no visit. Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Tioga counties saw 68% of facilities go without visits. Finally, the worst area was New York City, where over 96% of facilities saw no visit.

Not only are the lack of visits concerning for the elderly population in New York State, but the Health Department is facing a list of backlogs as well. This puts the elderly in a vulnerable position, and families are feeling the stress it causes for their loved ones in these facilities.

One solution proposed by advocates includes boosting the funding from the state for the oversight program in the next budget. The current budget is $4.4 million dollars, but advocates are asking for the next budget to be $15 million dollars. By boosting it to $15 million, there could be 235 more full-time employees that could conduct visits weekly and regularly. Right now there are 40 full time employees, 25 part time employees, and 250 volunteers. This proves challenging when it comes to visiting all 1,400 facilities throughout the entire state. A lot of the volunteers are over the age of 65, which results in a low level of participation as they protect themselves from the pandemic.

The program attempted to gather more volunteers during an outreach and received 400 inquiries. Unfortunately, many people declined to move forward after they learned how much effort was involved.

Categories: New York StateNews