FRESNO: Audit Finds DHS Slow in Investigating Nursing Home Complaints
The Fresno office of the Department of Health Services "did not adequately safeguard the welfare" of residents in nursing facilities, an independent auditor's report has found. The Fresno Bee reports that the audit investigated whether the office administrator, Reba Gutierrez, extended "preferential treatment" to the facilities owned by Mission Medical Enterprises Inc., because her parents live in one of the homes. While no conflict of interest was found, the audit reported that officials "failed to initiate complaint investigations in a timely manner" and when citations were issued, they were not at the "appropriate" level. Complaint investigations should begin within two to 10 days of an allegation or incident and must be completed within 40 days. Investigators, however, found "instances of 60-day delays" in starting investigations, which sometimes lasted between 45 and 116 days. Gloria Barrows, the department's assistant deputy director for licensing and certification, said, "Our staff just can't respond as quickly as we'd like to all of our complaints. It's just a staffing problem. We want to do this in a timely way, also." While focusing on Mission Medical-owned nursing facilities in Kings and Tulare counties, the audit found that problems "are probably not limited" to those facilities (Kreamer, Fresno Bee, 10/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.