Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Woodbury....

Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Woodbury. A state Supreme Court justice has appointed an independent health care monitor for the facility. Credit: Danielle Silverman

An Albany-based consultant who used to help oversee nursing homes statewide will serve as an independent health care monitor at Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, managing patient care at the troubled Woodbury facility.

Meanwhile, the ownership of Cold Spring Hills, Long Island's second-largest nursing home, has until Wednesday to make a court-ordered $2.6 million payment after a Nassau judge found the facility in contempt last week for failing to make employee health care payments to a union benefit fund. Union officials confirmed Tuesday the payment still has not been made.

On Friday, state Supreme Court Justice Lisa Cairo named Lisa Wickens-Alteri, president of Capital Health Consulting LLC, as Cold Spring Hills' independent health care monitor, focused on improving resident care, maintaining sufficient staffing and ensuring that management follows state and federal guidelines. 

Cairo, who sits in Mineola, ordered the installation of the health care monitor last month as part of the resolution of a contentious lawsuit between New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Cold Spring Hills that also included a more than $2 million financial penalty to the nursing home's owners. James charged in the suit that the facility neglected resident care and skirted state laws through a fraudulent business setup designed to enrich the owners. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Lisa Wickens-Alteri, an Albany-based consultant, has been appointed as the independent health care monitor at Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Woodbury.
  • Wickens-Alteri, who previously held a key role in overseeing nursing homes for the state, will be tasked with managing all aspects of medical care at Long Island’s second-largest nursing home.
  • Cold Spring Hills has until Wednesday to make a court-ordered $2.6 million payment after a Nassau judge found them in contempt for failing to make employee health care payments to a union benefit fund.

The facility had risked being penalized tens of millions of dollars, the installation of a financial monitor and having one of its owners, Bent Philipson, removed — all of which were rejected by the court.

Wickens-Alteri will be provided access to the facility's electronic medical records, staffing data, internal surveys, accident and investigation reports, along with the nursing home's books, payroll records and cost reports, according to Cairo's order. All hiring decisions and potential staff layoffs need to be approved by Wickens-Alteri, Cairo wrote.

Wickens-Alteri starts Wednesday and is required to be at the 588-bed facility a minimum of 10 days per month. Her compensation has yet to be established with the nursing home, she said.

“My mission is to just make them a good, quality facility and to fix any of the issues that are there,” Wickens-Alteri told Newsday on Tuesday. “I start by talking to staff that are already there; hear them out because they have the best insight into the issues that need to be fixed. It's also important to talk to the residents and start listening to them.”

The attorney general's office said it had recommended Wickens-Alteri for the position, and the judge made the final selection.

Attorneys for Cold Spring Hills, which appealed Cairo's ruling, declined to comment on Wickens-Alteri's appointment or whether it will make the employee health care payment.

Wickens-Alteri, a former registered nurse at an upstate nursing home, spent eight years as deputy director of the Office of Health Systems Management, the policy, regulatory, surveillance and enforcement arm of the State Health Department, which has oversight of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

In 2016, Wickens-Alteri was appointed independent health care monitor at Medford Multicare Center as part of the settlement of a lawsuit with then-Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, stemming from the 2012 death of a resident. The female resident died after employees failed to connect her to a ventilator overnight and ignored alarms that indicated she had stopped breathing, officials said.

The independent health care monitor role, Wickens-Alteri said, can become adversarial, such as when she makes unpopular decisions about hiring or terminating staff. 

“The whole goal is to try and come up with ideas to make sure that people are held accountable,” said Wickens-Alteri, who has yet to speak with the nursing home's ownership. “I don't think anyone goes into this wanting to do poor care.”

Meanwhile, the nursing home's owners have until Wednesday to pay 1199SEIU National Benefit Funds $2.65 million — the amount needed to continue providing health care through May 22 to Cold Spring Hills' roughly 440 employees. Health benefits for employees at Cold Spring Hills, which have remained in effect during the dispute over the payments, are set to expire April 22. 

In October, Cairo ordered Cold Spring Hills to “make all required payments in a timely manner” to ensure staff benefits remain available.

“1199SEIU caregivers continue to provide quality care to the nursing home’s residents despite concerns that they may lose health insurance for themselves and their families in a few days,” union spokeswoman Rose Ryan said Tuesday. “We remain hopeful that Cold Spring Hills’ management will do the right thing and make their contractually required payments to the workers’ health benefit fund by close of business tomorrow.”

Avi Philipson, one of the for-profit facility's co-owners, contends in court records that the facility “is running at a significant loss” and efforts to sell the nursing home have been unsuccessful.

If the payment is not made, the nursing home's attorneys, which have appealed the contempt order, are due back in court Thursday, where Cairo said “an appropriate penalty would be considered.”

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

Latest videos