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Hawaii State Ombudsman, John McDermott, Discusses a Bill that Will Allow Him to Hire 3 Staff Members

March 24, 2017

John McDermott must act as the sole long-term care ombudsman for the entire state of Hawaii with only a small number of active volunteers to support him. Due to the ombudsman program being understaffed, McDermott struggles to meet both state and federal standards. One of the federal standards, mandated by the Administration on Aging, requires him to visit every long-term care facility at least once a quarter, “that would be 28 facilities a day. It’s not at all possible,” McDermott says. The article states, "McDermott’s current budget is just shy of $31,000 — money he says is spent entirely on airfare and car rentals so he can catch up with as many long-term care residents as possible." Another issue McDermott faces is his continuously increasing workload due to a new rule implemented by CMS requiring long-term care facilities to report every discharged patient to the ombudsman program. The potential passing of Senate Bill 530 presents hope for McDermott, Hawaii’s State Ombudsmen Program, and the state’s long-term care residents. This bill would allocate $150,000 to the program allowing McDermott to hire another full-time ombudsman and one part-time employee for each of the neighbor islands. While this would not completely alleviate the ombudsman program’s issues, it would allow the program to provide better service to long-term care residents and significantly improve the program’s overall efficiency. McDermott urges residents to pressure legislators to pass bills like Senate Bill 530 to ensure that all of Hawaii’s long-term care consumers receive the quality care that they deserve.