Kaiser Agrees to Pay Fine for Care Lapse
By CHARLES ORNSTEIN
TIMES STAFF WRITER
September 5 2002
California HMO regulators have fined Kaiser
Permanente $100,000 for
failing to provide a disabled member with home health-care services
agreeing to do so, officials said Wednesday.
In levying the fine, the state Department of
Managed Health Care cited
the experience of Alex Stoyanovsky, a Fairfield resident with Lou
disease, who received inconsistent home health-care services from a
contractor between February 2001 and March of this year.
The agency said Kaiser violated a decision by an
independent panel of
medical experts requiring the HMO to provide 12 hours of home health
each day to Stoyanovsky, who died in July at age 41. Regulators did
however, contend that Stoyanovsky died as a result of deficient home
Daniel Zingale, director of the managed-care
agency, said Kaiser's failings
extended beyond Stoyanovsky's case. A survey conducted by the agency
other patients who did not receive home health-care services as
"The fine was magnified by the fact that it wasn't
an isolated case,"
Zingale said. "It's a very positive sign that Kaiser is willing to
responsibility for failing in the area of home health care and working
with us to do better."
Kaiser officials said they chose not to contest
the state's findings
and instead would work to correct them. In particular, the HMO agreed
create a system to monitor the performance of home health-care agencies
that provide services under contracts with Kaiser.
"We're satisfied with how this whole process
worked," said Kaiser spokesman
Tom Debley. "There's certainly work to be done, but we are underway."
Lina Stoyanovsky, Alex's wife, said she hopes no
other family has to
go through the ordeal of caring for a terminally ill loved one without
enough support. When home health-care nurses didn't show up--sometimes
because the agency didn't have enough staff--Stoyanovsky was her
only caregiver. "At one point, I was suicidal. I couldn't handle it,"
Stoyanovsky, who emigrated from Russia 15 years ago. "There were weeks
when I couldn't wash my hair ....I just couldn't leave the room."
Stoyanovsky said she hopes the insurer will
improve its system soon.
"I still believe that even one person can make a difference," she said.
"I hope ... that in the future, other people can benefit somehow."
Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times