BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a $500,000 settlement with Kaleida Health on Tuesday, as the result of an investigation into an infant's death.
It was in 2015 that a 16-month-old patient died at the HighPointe on Michigan Health Care Facility in Buffalo.
Part of the investigation also centered on the arrests of 17 caregivers back in 2014, who were later convicted of neglect in the care of a patient with Huntington's disease.
In addition to the $500,000 payment for restitution and damages, Kaleida Health has also agreed to increase staffing and supervision at the HighPointe facility.
According to the Attorney General's office, Kaleida Health has to commit to the following reforms for at least the next 30 months:
- The hiring of a new medical director of the pediatric unit and mandating a minimum number of pediatric care staff on the floor at all times;
- Hiring 40 additional full-time facility care staff, including nurses, nurse aides, and therapists;
- Making capital improvements to the facility and system, including to the pager/alarm system;
- Instituting an electronic medical record-keeping system;
- Providing extended training to all care professionals; and
- Requiring the creation of a corporate compliance officer position solely responsible for the oversight of HighPointe.
The Attorney General encourages anyone with witnesses nursing home abuse or neglect at medical facilities to use the toll-free Fraud Hotline at (800) 771-7755.
On Tuesday afternoon, Kaleida Health declined an interview request from WGRZ but did send us the following statement:
“We have been cooperating with the Attorney General’s Office on this matter. The settlement involves cases that occurred upwards of five years ago. As we have said numerous times in the past, these issues are unacceptable and are not tolerated. Safe and reliable care is at the core of all that we do. Our first and foremost concern is the residents that we serve.
“As one of the Attorney General’s conditions to this settlement, Kaleida Health neither admits nor denies the Attorney General’s findings.
“It is important to note – and the Attorney General’s office points out - that we have made significant changes and investments over the past few years relative to staffing and quality of care. This includes adding more than 75 full-time employees, changing out 85% of management and 60% of our front line staff. Most importantly, we are now rated five stars for our quality. So, despite an extremely challenging environment, we continue to make progress.”
Since 2014, Kaleida Health has invested more than $12 million into HighPointe on Michigan on these various quality and staffing initiatives.
Today, the facility is rated four stars overall and five stars (5 out of 5) for quality by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS).
CMS recently released its “Value Based Rankings” for all skilled nursing facilities in United State and HighPointe on Michigan was rated in the top tier (tying for first) out of 15,200 nursing homes.