Md. Office of Health Care Quality looking for new leader amid lawsuit over alleged nursing home neglect

The Maryland Department of Health is looking for a new executive director for the Office of Health Care Quality amid allegations that some of the state’s nursing homes are not being maintained properly.

The longtime head of that office — which is responsible for overseeing nursing home inspections — is resigning. This announcement comes almost a month after a class-action lawsuit was filed against the health department, alleging it has failed to conduct annual inspections of dozens of nursing facilities and allowed a backlog of complaints over care to pile up.

The resignation of Dr. Tricia Nay is effective June 27. She was appointed executive director in 2014 after starting as the agency’s acting director in 2013.

Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman will serve as acting executive director while a national search is held for Nay’s replacement. The department anticipates the search could take months.

“There is much work to be done within the Office of Health Care Quality,” said Kalyanaraman in a news release. “Since the pandemic, health care services across the country have struggled as they reel from staffing setbacks and other challenges. The Department will hire leadership that builds trust and maintains Maryland’s strict standards for quality care.”

The Office of Health Care Quality is responsible for issuing state licensure for operating some health care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living programs.

‘Serious allegations of harm to residents’

The class action lawsuit, filed last month, claimed lax state oversight of complaints brought against the state’s nursing facilities.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland, lists five plaintiffs — all residents of Maryland nursing facilities and all with serious mobility impairments. It also lists several accounts of poor care and neglect, including residents being left in soiled clothing for hours and others confined to their beds for weeks.

The lawsuit points to a serious backlog of complaints brought directly by residents — some alleging “serious allegations of harm to residents” — that the lawsuit says have not been investigated.

The suit claims that the department reported some 13,173 complaints and facility-related reports over the last three years, of which fewer than half have been investigated.

“This results in nursing facility residents waiting months, or even years, for their complaints that they were harmed by abuse, neglect, poor-quality care, or rights violations, to be investigated,” the lawsuit stated.

The suit also claims that the health department has fallen behind on inspections necessary for facilities to maintain their licenses.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.


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