Nursing homes across the state are repeatedly hit for health and safety violations, but the state Department of Health has been slow to collect the fines levied by inspectors. An audit from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found that could hurt residents of senior facilities.

“These problems have resulted in significant delays,” DiNapoli said at a news conference on Monday. “In some cases, up to six years, when a violation is cited and then when the fine is actually issued.”

The money from fines charged to nursing homes for violations has gone toward improving the quality of care. But increasingly, the state has been slow to collect the money — a reflection that the current system in place needs to be changed.

“The agency needs to develop a single, more comprehensive system to track all enforcement actions as well as consider assessing fines for lower level infractions,” DiNapoli said.

But DiNapoli also says the DOH needs to add more employees who oversee fine collection for nursing homes.

“You really have a staffing issue,” he said. “I think that’s really the clear part of it where they just have one person part time doing this work.”

The Department of Health in a statement said a new enforcement process was put in place in April 2015 and it was working to ensure fines are assessed in a timely matter.

“Let’s be crystal clear: The Comptroller’s audit found DOH to be in compliance with federal regulations governing the inspection of nursing homes, and that the agency acts quickly on serious complaints,” said DOH spokesman Jim Plastiras. “DOH is committed to protecting the health and safety of New York’s nursing home residents.”

Fines for nursing homes range from $2,000 to $10,000 for repeat offesnes. Some advocates for the elderly say the state should consider increasing those penalties.

“It’s time, long overdue, that the state of New York become a little more structured, more oversight, to improve the quality of care,” said Jack Kupferman of the Gray Panthers NYC Network. “If that means increasing the dollar value of the fines so there’s a real bite, then let’s do it.”

The current fines by law are due to be reduced to $2,000 in April 2017. DiNapoli says the state Legislature should act to at the very least keep the penalties at their current levels.