Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced on Friday separate actions to protect elderly individuals and others from abuse or neglect at the hands of health care providers.
The Division’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) issued Notices of Violation (NOVs) against six health care service firms seeking a total of $57,700 in civil penalties for alleged violations of the statutes and regulations governing firms that place caregivers in the homes of senior citizens and the disabled who need their services. The violations cited against the firms range from improper record keeping and failure to establish a patient Plan of Care, to failing to properly verify the license status of each home care provider and failing to register with the Division as a health care service firm.
In addition, the state filed a complaint with the New Jersey State Board of Nursing seeking to revoke the nursing license and homemaker-home health aide certification of a Sussex County woman who, while working as a Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide, allegedly stole funds from one elderly patient and named herself the beneficiary of annuity policies belonging to another elderly patient.
“Home care providers spend long stretches alone with elderly and disabled individuals, many of whom are vulnerable and wholly dependent on their caregivers. It is imperative that they, and the firms that place them, obey the rules and laws that help ensure the most vulnerable among us receive proper care,” said Grewal in a statement. “The Division of Consumer Affairs works year-round to protect our senior citizens from being preyed upon by those who view them as easy victims. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an opportunity to demonstrate those efforts as we join communities around the world in highlighting the need to keep the elderly safe from harm,” said Grewal.
“As our nation’s population ages and the home healthcare industry grows, so do concerns about the safety of the loved ones we entrust to their care,” said acting director Rodríguez. “The several actions announced today illustrate the Division’s vigilance in enforcing the laws and regulations pertaining to home care service firms and care providers.”
Health care service firms, according to the AGs office, are defined as businesses that “place or arrange for the placement of personnel to provide companion services, health care, or personal care services in the personal residence of a person with a disability or a senior citizen age 60 or older.”
The firms must be registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs, and are inspected and investigated for compliance by the Office of Consumer Protection’s Health Care Service Firm Investigative Unit.
- Patient Record Violations, which can include no Plan of Care (POC) in a patient file, POC not established by an appropriately licensed person, failure to assess the POC every 30 or 60 days, and failure to ensure that the Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide’s qualifications were properly matched to a patient’s needs.
- Caregiver Record Violations, which can include failure to include a one-year employment history on employment application, failure to include applicant’s license issuing authority or board on employment application, and failure to include names of former supervisors on employment application.
- Additional Miscellaneous Violations, which can include failure to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs, failure to employ a licensed Health Care Practitioner Supervisor, failure to properly verify the license or certification status of each employed individual, and failure to inquire of all former employers listed on an employment application the reason for a caregiver’s departure.
The following firms received NOVs and were assessed civil penalties:
Homecare Angels & Transport Services LLC, Phillipsburg, $4,000
Help-In-Home Domestic Employment Agency Inc., Long Branch, $15,050
Caring Angels In Homecare Inc., North Brunswick, $4,000
Autumn Hills Home Care LLC, Dover, $6,000
ADD-Home LLC, Parsippany, $10,000
Love In Care II LLC dba Golden Heart Senior Care, Englewood Cliffs, $18,650
Each of the health care service firms receiving an NOV has the opportunity to contest the alleged violations of law, or the opportunity to correct the violation by ending any practices in violation of the law, paying a civil penalty, and submitting an application for registration, if not registered.
The Division also announced a complaint filed with the Board of Nursing seeking to revoke the nursing license of LPN Kimblin Cowins on the grounds that she fraudulently obtained a license by lying on her application in 2017.