More than 18 months ago, the management of the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton Village said the facility was addressing conditions that led to a patient complaint rate 10 times the national average. But concern, and even anger, about the facility’s quality of care persist.
Overworked and understaffed nurses are joined by a long list of former patients, employees and local doctors who continue to level damning allegations about the 280-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility, which opened in 2006. Mired in controversy throughout its history—starting with lawsuits over the construction of the project in the first place, followed by legal problems and financial complications that delayed construction for more than two years—the nursing home originally known as Payton Lane has had a tumultuous three years of business.
The latest criticism of the facility, which is owned and operated by a local limited liability company, North Sea Associates, comes from emergency medical technicians and crews of local volunteer ambulance companies. In a letter to the State Department of Health, they registered concern about conditions at the hospital and complained that calls from the facility have taxed the local volunteer companies.
But even before the EMTs’ complaints, conditions and the quality of care at the nursing home have been targeted by a wide range of local residents and medical personnel, including doctors who have worked with or at the center since it opened. State officials inspecting the facility have reported the employment of people previously found guilty of abuse, and dangerous conditions for some patients. A recent inspection by state officials in November showed improvement, and no new problems, suggesting that the facility might finally be on track. But the number of complaints and issues raised in the first three years of the Hamptons Center’s existence is notable.
Following several months of investigation, The Press tried over several weeks to contact representatives of the facility, and Dr. Charles Guida of Southampton, its medical director. Numerous telephone messages were not returned, and other attempts to obtain comment in person from any facility spokesperson regarding the complaints, both official and anecdotal, were unsuccessful.
According to the state Department of Health, the Hamptons Rehab Center has logged more than 10 times the statewide average of complaints per 100 beds. In April 2008, the facility was cited by state health inspectors for 57 deficiencies in response to complaints filed over the previous three years. That computes to an average of 245.5 complaints per 100 occupied beds—the statewide average during the same time period was 23.5 complaints per 100 occupied beds.
The problems cited ranged from minor issues with food quality and obstructions in hallways to severe deficiencies in patient care and well-being, serious enough to be considered evidence of “substandard quality of care.”
A summary of the deficiencies on the Department of Health’s website, nyhealth.gov, showed that inspectors rated three conditions at the Hamptons Rehab Center at the most grave level of severity: those which pose “immediate jeopardy” to the health of patients—described as the presence of accident hazards, the employment of people who have previously been found guilty of abuse, and a failure to “effectively obtain the highest practicable well-being.” The most severe concerns were also rated as “widespread” within the facility.
The employment of people guilty of abuse and the accident hazards were further labeled as evidence of “substandard quality of care,” which, according to the department, “indicates a systemic deficiency in quality of care within a facility. Only citations related to the quality of residents’ care can have this designation ... In addition, for a citation to receive this designation, the deficiency must be severe and/or impact several residents.”
An inspection report posted this month on the department’s website, covering the last three years of inspections, shows a total of 55 deficiencies, including 37 related to a standard inspection of the health care provided by the facility, and 18 to life safety code violations, which include fire codes and other matters. All of the figures are more than double the statewide average for a single facility. Seven of the deficiencies, or more than one in 10, were related to actual harm or immediate jeopardy; the state average is one such deficiency, making up 4 percent of the total at any facility.
Four more complaints listed in the state report were given the second most severe rating by inspectors—defined as causing “actual harm”—including a complaint that a patient was not provided sufficient fluids.
Department of Health spokeswoman Claire Pospisil notes that the summary says two of the conditions were to be corrected by the date of the April inspection and the third was to have been corrected by June 20 of last year. She added that a November inspection showed that the Hamptons Center staff had addressed the issues raised in April, and no new deficiencies were found.