NEWARK – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that Infinity Healthcare LLC, a Somers Point-based home health agency, has ceased operating and its owner is permanently enjoined from operating any similar business, following a Consumer Affairs investigation into its placement of health aides for in-home patient care.
The investigation that led to Infinity’s closure is part of a larger initiative in which the Division of Consumer Affairs is investigating home health care agencies – those that contract with patients to provide licensed nurses or certified home health aides on a rotating basis to care for individuals in their homes – to determine the companies’ compliance with consumer protection laws.
Jerome Kurmas, Infinity’s president and sole owner, signed a Consent Order with the Division in which he agreed to cease operating the business. The Consent Order follows a March 2012 inspection in which Consumer Affairs investigators interviewed Kurmas and his employees, and reviewed the company’s documents regarding employee activities and patient care.
In its investigation, the Division found that not one of the employees listed in Infinity’s files was certified by the State Board of Nursing to practice as a home health aide. Nevertheless, in violation of State regulation, Infinity regularly placed those uncertified employees in patient’s homes, to provide services that can only be performed by Board of Nursing-certified aides.
Additionally, Infinity allegedly violated the regulation by failing to match each client’s specific needs with the qualifications of the aide sent to serve the client. Infinity also allegedly failed to verify the license status of each individual prior to referral or placement, and failed to verify each employee’s license status or work history.
Infinity also allegedly violated the Health Care Firm Regulations by failing to establish a written plan of care for each patient, failing to conduct a 30-day client health care review, and failing to conduct a 60-day on-site in home evaluation. The company further failed to maintain adequate records of employees’ activities or patient care, among other violations.
“Consumers expect home health agencies to responsibly care for vulnerable loved ones who are severely limited in their ability to care for themselves. Certified home health aides may perform everything from in-home medical care to help with bathing, grooming, eating, and walking,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “Any home health care company that sends uncertified and unqualified employees to patients’ homes, or fails to evaluate the care received by its clients, is committing an unconscionable violation of the public’s trust – and of New Jersey’s laws. I commend the Division of Consumer Affairs for acting to protect the public from substandard care.”
Home health aides must be certified by the State Board of Nursing. Home health agencies that hire them must make sure the employees are duly licensed in good standing, before sending them to provide care in patients’ homes. Failure to do so is a violation of New Jersey’s Health Care Firm Regulations.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs has an important mandate to protect the health and safety of consumers. That responsibility is especially important when it comes to ensuring elderly or disabled individuals receive the quality care they deserve from aides who are supposed to be fully certified and qualified to provide such care,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “Any business that puts itself out as a home health agency, but fails to live up to the very specific requirements of our laws and regulations, will be held accountable.”
Acting Director Kanefsky noted that the Division’s initiative to review the activities of home health agencies is ongoing.
Investigator Gina Galloni, of the Division’s Enforcement Bureau, and Investigator Joseph Singh, of the Division’s Office of Consumer Protection, conducted the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Alina Wells, of the Division of Law, represented the State in this matter.
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