Wednesday, July 17, 2024


Doctor: Surgery Center’s Violations Being Corrected

By James Lomuscio

A Westport doctor said today that his Center for Ambulatory Surgery in Westport should be reopened by the end of the month as he works with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to rectify 23 violations investigators cited during visits early last Image
The Center for Ambulatory Surgery at 32 Imperial Ave. was ordered closed by the state for health violations. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The plastic surgery center at 32 Imperial Ave. had its license suspended May 24 and $4,000 fine imposed due to problems found “that may cause a risk to public health,” a DPH report said.

“The state came to my facility and found various deficiencies, 90 percent of which had to do with paperwork,” said Dr. Joel B. Singer, 69, a Compo Road South resident who has lived in town more than 38 years.

“Since then I have been put on notice, and we have been complying. I have basically corrected most of them, and we’re still working on it and plan to have all of the deficiencies corrected by the middle of this month.”

Donna Ortelle, supervising nurse consultant for the DPH’s licensing and investigations unit, detailed to Singer in a letter dated May 23 the extent of the violations found during the three unannounced visits on May 2, 3, and 6.

Among the first of the 23 violations cited were the failure to provide documentation that meetings of the facility’s governing body were held at least four times a year and the failure to have current credentialing information on physicians and mid-level healthcare workers.

Investigators also said that the facility did not ensure that fire drills were held regularly, that emergency lighting had a duration of up to one-and-a-half hours, and that the wiring was up to the national code.

In keeping with Singer’s “paperwork” comment, the report said that the facility’s owners did not provide documentation to ensure that all of the nursing personnel were CPR certified.

“We’ve been licensed since 2004, and I’ve gone through three or four inspections with no problems,” said Singer. “Apparently, the regulations since 2010 have changed significantly, and I have basically be caught unaware.

“We have not been singled out, but the change in the regulatory climate has resulted in more stringent regimentation,” he added.

Other violations cited including using outdated and undated medications; outdated surgical needles and scrub solutions; no documentation of pre- and post-surgical patient assessments; no “official infection control practices;” no documentation of patient allergies to medications; and soiled surgical instruments in a sterile reprocessing room.

“We have never had a serious, untoward event occur with any patient in the more than 30 years I’ve been utilizing my own facility,” said Singer, who is currently working at a New York City plastic surgery center, which he did not identify, until the license suspension is lifted.

“And, we’re seriously working with the state Department of Public Health.

“It’s a lot like the Health Department walking into the most exceptional restaurant in New York, seeing a few roaches, closing it down, and it makes front page news,” he added.

“The restaurant brings in an exterminator, sprays, and the bugs go away. But, the people still remember the story.”

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