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Following neglect charges, Kaleida makes changes at HighPointe

Six weeks after 17 workers at the HighPointe on Michigan nursing home were charged with neglecting a patient under their care, Kaleida Health has removed the facility’s director and its director of nursing.

The personnel moves highlight a series of changes at the nursing home made by Kaleida Health that include improved hiring practices, additional education and training for workers and renewed focus on clinical care provided by nurses and other staffers.

Kaleida Health officials said the changes announced Wednesday were made to address the allegations of neglect and followed a review of the facility’s operations by Jody L. Lomeo, the system’s new CEO, and his leadership team.

“We must move forward on making HighPointe the best long-term care facility in Western New York. We have a tremendous facility and a talented team of caregivers,” Lomeo said in a statement.

The two administrators who were removed from their jobs were not named in the Kaleida Health statement, and Michael P. Hughes, a system spokesman, declined a follow-up request to identify them.

Eugene Gonsiorek is leaving the McGuire Group’s Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg to take over as HighPointe’s director on an interim basis. The nursing director’s assistant is taking that job on an interim basis while a search for a permanent replacement is conducted, Hughes said.

The additional changes include:

•Dr. Joan Chang, HighPointe’s medical director, will conduct rounds with the facility’s nurse managers, and the system promises to improve oversight of the nursing leadership with extra audits and further education.

•Additional education and training of staff on complying with a care plan, documenting patient care and following doctors’ orders for treatment and medication.

•Improved hiring practices and accountability throughout the facility.

The changes come six weeks after the state Attorney General’s Office brought charges of neglect against 17 HighPointe workers following a hidden-camera investigation into their treatment of a 56-year-old patient at the nursing home.

The probe took place last June and 17 workers – one registered nurse, seven licensed practical nurses and nine certified nurse aides – were arraigned in late April in Buffalo City Court on felony charges that include falsifying business records, endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and willful violation of state health laws governing the care of patients.

They were fired by Kaleida Health and are awaiting felony hearings over the coming months.