A resident’s quality of care compelled Genesis HealthCare to enter a settlement agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) earlier this week.
The settlement follows a complaint that Genesis failed to provide a qualified interpreter to an deaf resident at its skilled nursing facility (SNF) in Randallstown, Maryland.
Throughout the resident’s stay at the SNF, staff communicated with him via written notes and gestures, even while conducting a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation of him, OCR reports.
Not being provided a qualified interpreter threatened the quality of care the resident received, OCR suggests, as a communication barrier posed difficulties in discussing care evaluations, as well as the side-effects of numerous medications.
“The patient’s care was unnecessarily and significantly compromised by the stark absence of interpreter services,” said OCR Director Leon Rodriguez.
OCR conducted its investigation of Genesis under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires that health care providers take the appropriate steps to ensure effective communication with individuals.
For Genesis to have communicated effectively with the unnamed resident, OCR suggests that a qualified sign language interpreter would have been necessary.
The terms of the settlement require Genesis to create enhanced communication procedures to better communicate with deaf and hard of hearing residents.
This includes the formation of an auxiliary aids and services hotline; creation of an advisory committee to provide guidance on how to communicate with such residents; and design a monitor to conduct a self-assessment and obtain feedback from deaf individuals.
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Genesis HealthCare has entered into the settlement and is fully cooperating with the Department of Health and Human Services, the company said in a statement to SHN.
“Genesis HealthCare is committed to providing quality care to each and every patient in the centers it owns and operates across the United States, regardless of race, color, national origin, disability, sex or age,” the company said. “We view this as a positive step in our ongoing commitment to quality improvement and compliance with Section 504,” Genesis said.
Written by Jason Oliva