Big changes are coming for those who watch over the elderly in community-based care home facilities.
Earlier this week, KHON2 reported on the death of Nona Mosman who, according to the state Attorney General, died from neglect.
The person who was supposed to have been her primary caregiver, Jennifer Polintan, pled guilty to manslaughter.
Two others at her home in Waipahu, which operated under the Community Care Foster Family Home (CCFFH) program, have also been ordered to appear in court.
Now that program will have a new watchdog: the state Department of Health. The department told KHON2 it will review the way all community-based care home programs are being regulated.
Keith Ridley, chief of the department’s Office of Health Care Assurance, says with all programs, “the primary caregiver would be, in fact, the primary caregiver.”
That was not the case with Polintan, who left the care of 88-year-old Mosman in the hands of people who investigators determined were not qualified to look after her. Meanwhile, Polintan worked a full-time job elsewhere.
In July, the CCFFH program, along with adult day care facilities and case management agencies, all transferred over to the Department of Health from the Department of Human Services. But the health department will continue to rely on a private agency to conduct licensing, certification and investigations of complaints when it comes to service providers.
State Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland helped make the transition happen. “I hope that in the transition from DHS to the Department of Health we will have this high level of care, but also accountability,” she said.
When the incident with Mosman occurred, the CCFFH program was under the watch of the Department of Human Services. DHS worked with a private agency, Community Ties of America (CTA). Its Hawaii office is based in Kaneohe.
In a statement provided to KHON2, DHS says it moved Mosman to another facility once there was a finding of negligence and revoked Polintan’s license.
DHS says it believes it provided “appropriate oversight” over its contractor and that Community Ties of America “conducted itself appropriately.”
The health department conducts direct surveys of the 700 adult residential care homes and now it may also do the same with the 1,132 CCFFH operations that have now come under its watch.
“We have a contract with CTA and we’re hoping to continue to fulfill the obligations of that contract, and we’re going to expect CTA to fulfill the expectations of the contract. Anything beyond that, we can discuss,” said Ridley.
The health department also told KHON2 that the transition will allow the agency to take a look at all types of community-based care home facilities and work toward more “uniformity and consistency” in the way they are all regulated.