2002-07-27 / Front Page

Ocean House Rocked By New Charges

NYS State Health Department Finds Serious Violations At Facility
By Gary G. Toms

NYS Health Department Finds
Serious Violations At Facility

In the July 6 issue, The Wave reported that Sherman Taub, 57, and his son, Judah, 33, were arrested and charged with stealing more than $2 million from Ocean House, an adult care facility for the mentally disabled located at 12-14 Heyson Road in Far Rockaway. The two men were accused of bilking more than $2 million from the 125-bed facility, which operates as a not-for-profit entity. Now, things have apparently gone from bad to worse, as Ocean House has been cited as one of four adult care facilities charged with a number of violations by the New York State Health Department.

The violations were found as a result of a series of joint-agency focused surveys that were conducted at adult care facilities (ACF's) by team inspectors from the Department of Health (DOH), the State Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Commission on the Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled (CQC).

On May 7, 2002, an unprecedented multi-agency sweep of adult homes began in the New York area, and teams of inspectors cited Anna Erika Home for Adults (Richmond), Ocean House Home for Adults (Queens), Sanford Home for Adults (Queens), and King Solomon Manor (Queens) for serious violations regarding care and services provided to residents.

In the survey, inspectors focused on the areas of mental health services, the reporting of deaths and incidents involving residents, medication management, case management, room temperatures and the overall physical conditions of the facilities.

The following violations were cited at Ocean House during the recent joint-agency survey sweep:

  1. The documentation of face-to face mental health evaluations was incomplete and inaccurate for specific residents with histories of mental illness.

  2. Staff did not adequately observe residents to determine if they were ingesting their medications.

  3. Carts containing controlled substances were not properly secured or stored.

  4. Documentation of residents' needs and the home's actions to address those needs was not completed.

  5. Two residents were improperly denied access to their personal belongings by staff.

  6. Residents were allowed access to an unlocked boiler room containing dangerous equipment.

  7. There was evidence that residents were smoking cigarettes in their bedrooms, creating a potential fire hazard.

  8. Numerous items in the resident bedrooms and bathrooms were dirty and required repair or replacement.

  9. Water temperature in resident bathrooms exceeded the maximum allowed temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

  10. Food was improperly stored in refrigerators and freezers.

"The adult home surveillance sweeps we are conducting with OHM and CQC will further ensure quality living conditions for residents," said State Health Commissioner, Antonia C. Novello. "We will continue to work with those homes that are providing quality care and are in good standing. However, those homes found to have unsafe living conditions will be cited and required to take immediate action to address the violations. Those homes that do not comply with State regulations will face enforcement action."

State Office of Mental Health Commissioner James L. Stone stated, "Our highest priority is to ensure that individuals with psychiatric disabilities residing in adult homes have every opportunity to work toward recovery in a safe, decent environment. These surveys represent a crucial step toward improving the conditions in adult care facilities for all residents."

Gary O'Brien, Chairman of the Commission on the Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled also commented on the overall purpose of the investigations.

"New York's comprehensive adult home surveillance efforts are helping to improve the quality of life for residents."

The Wave made several attempts to contact Ocean House directors and administrators for comment regarding the State Health Department's findings, but none of the calls were returned.

A fine of $5,100 has been imposed by the State against Ocean House for the violations. ACF operators have 30 days to submit corrective action plans to the appropriate State agencies, noting how the home will correct the violations. In the meantime, the State will continue to conduct unannounced re-inspections to ensure the corrections are being implemented and maintained.

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