Thursday, July 02, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Lawsuit: Compel Department of Health to post long term care home inspection reports
By Selected News Articles @ 4:14 PM :: 3004 Views :: Ethics, Health Care

Reluctant but determined: Kokua Council files suit to compel the Hawaii Department of Health to post long term care home inspection reports

by Larry Geller, Disappeared News, July 26, 2016  

Let me disclose at the top of this article that I’m writing about something that I helped to instigate. I’m past president and a current board member of Kokua Council. What I’d like to emphasize here is that Kokua Council’s legal action was undertaken with great reluctance. I’ll explain a bit below.

And who is speaking here? Me. I cannot undo being a board member, but I am also a concerned citizen who happens to have a blog.

First I’d like to refer you to media coverage of yesterday’s press conference. Both Civil Beat’s Nathan Eagle and the Star-Bulletin’s Sophi Cocke have covered the issue quite well. The Civil Beat article, Advocates For Elderly Sue State Over Inspections Of Care Homes  (Civil Beat,7/25/16) is not paywalled so you can easily check it out. If you are a subscriber to the newspaper, please see Group sues over care home inspections (Star-Advertiser, 7/26/16).

Also please spend just a few minutes listening to Beth-Ann Kozlovich’s interview of me on The Conversation (Hawaii Public Radio, 7/26/16) this morning.

A copy of the complaint is on the Kokua Council website here.

Reluctant but determined

Now, the lawsuit was filed because Kokua Council believes that the Hawaii Department of Health is breaking the law by not posting inspection reports of long term care facilities—as required by Act 213 (2013). And even for those reports that have actually been posted, many are so heavily redacted that the information the public is entitled to view according to Act 213 has been replaced with black boxes. DOH had 18 months lead time before they had to start posting, but were absent at the starting gate.

Beth-Ann said:

You would think that posting care home inspections online would have been easy.

Yeah. Someone emailed me that high school kids could do it. In fact, the Legislature apportioned $148,000 for two positions and support equipment but the DOH did not hire those people.

And the redactions! Part of the lawsuit demands that the redactions must be removed. See the pictures in the Civil Beat article for examples. What is typically redacted are the “findings”: exactly the information that is needed and that the law was intended to provide.

Cheeseburger redactedSuppose you ordered a cheeseburger, paid for it and took it back to your seat to eat, only on unwrapping it you find that the meat patty had been redacted out of your sandwich…  that’s basically what has happened to many of the posted reports.

Of course, I’m talking about a serious matter, which is why the lawsuit was filed.

A family needing to place a loved one in a care home needs to have the information as soon as possible to make a placement decision. Waiting 10 days or more to get reports from DOH, which is what the law is supposed to eliminate, doesn’t work for most—the decision must be made on very short notice. A hospital may be pushing the family because it needs the bed for someone else. By the time reports are manually delivered, the patient may have been placed, or the bed is no longer available at the facility.

I said also that it was filed reluctantly. We tried a public records request in 2015 which did not succeed. On December 14, 2015, when only three reports on Adult Residential Care Homes had been posted out of a total of almost 500 homes, our attorney wrote a public records request bristling with citations and carefully describing what we were looking for. It was equally futile. DOH broke the sunshine law by not replying within the required time period.

The legislative Kupuna Caucus wrote a joint letter to Governor Ige in October, 2015.

In short, nothing worked. So yesterday an action was filed.

It’s not just a senior issue, by the way. Anyone might be involved in (say) a traffic accident and need to recover in some kind of facility. Or a caregiver might quit, leaving a family looking for a placement. Or someone may need to be in a home due to disability.

Having access to inspection reports is necessary to make a placement decision, and also to hold the long term care homes to basic licensing standards. Nursing home reports have long been posted due to federal requirements, and it works.

But there are other aspects of protection not involved with this lawsuit. For example, the need for unannounced inspections on the part of DOH. They can begin those today, it’s at their discretion. Unannounced inspections save lives and are the best way to identify violations.

A final concern is the evisceration of the Long Term Care Ombudsman office under DOH. There is now only one person in that office—the Ombudsman Specialist position has been eliminated. The one person is responsible for handling complaints for 1,702 facilities and 12,340 residents statewide. He would have to make about 28 or so visits a day just to meet the requirements.

The office should have at least six ombudsman, and should have been moved out of DOH according to federal rules that became effective July 1, 2016. Hawaii had plenty of warning about the coming rule change. Why does the office have to be moved elsewhere? Because DOH has a conflict of interest in that it licenses the same facilities it then inspects.

So that’s how the lawsuit came about. Will it be the end of the story? Not until DOH protects seniors and other long term care residents as the law requires.

Advocates are concerned and determined to see that this happens.

---30---

PDF: Text of Lawsuit

SA: Post inspections of care homes

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.  NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop 

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT