Hawaii has the lowest number of nursing home abuse sanctions in the country, but this is not necessarily because they have the best care. There is a troubling pattern in Hawaii; regulators rarely punish facilities for deficient care, even if the deficiencies bring direct harm to residents. In 2010, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services only imposed one sanction against a Hawaii facility. In the past six years, CMS only took actions against 4 percent of Hawaii facilities that were cited deficiencies, while the national average is 30 percent.
According to Bob Ogawa of the Hawaii Long Term Care Association, “Unless an incident is the result of a systemic, willful and ongoing disregard of those goals, the focus should be on working together to ensure it never happens again.” He also said that fines are not guaranteed to improve care, but they would take money away from improving care. Many other advocates for the elderly disagree with Ogawa; they believe that this creates a system where institutions know that they will be getting a second chance before any punishment is implemented.
Sexual Abuse from Nurse’s Aide Does Not Result in Sanction
An example of abuse that was not sanctioned by the state occurred in one of Hawaii’s premiere facilities, Kahala Nui. The home failed to protect their residents from a sexually abusive nurse’s aide and failed to properly investigate the allegations of abuse. they also failed to examine or interview any of the nine women who said the employee mistreated them between April 2008 and June 2009.
Mark Genetiano, the certified nurse aide accused of the abuse, was not reprimanded, even after co-workers witnessed mistreatment over several months in 2008, such as pinching the breasts of severely demented women under his care. It was not until he was seen striking a resident with a hairbrush in June 2009 that he was suspended. An investigation was also started by the facility that brought the previously unreported sexual assaults to administrators’ attention. Genetiano was then fired and the police were contacted. He pleaded guilty last year to six counts of third-degree sexual assault for abusing four women, completed a one-year prison sentence and was deported to the Philippines. The other workers who witnessed the abuse told inspectors that they were too scared of Genetiano to report him.
The state of Hawaii did cite the nursing home for failing to “ensure that all alleged violations of mistreatment, neglect or abuse were thoroughly investigated and reported immediately to the facility administrator and to other officials in accordance with state law” and that the facility failed to protect the residents from further abuse but no sanctions were issued. According to Pat Duarte, chief executive of Kahala Nui, “The incidents of 2009 were dealt with by administrators swiftly, the perpetrator was terminated and action was taken to ensure justice was served … we have now put that unfortunate chapter behind us.”
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia
If your loved one is currently a resident of a nursing home or care facility and you are worried that the care they are receiving is negligent, abusive, or inadequate, contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.