It's turning into a matter of life or death.
It’s turning into a matter of life or death, that’s what families say about the conditions and care at a Sodus nursing home that has been at the center of a year-long investigation by Messenger Post's news partner, News10NBC.
Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has three times the number of health and safety violations compared to the state average and family members say the situation is only getting worse.
“I'm all my mom has, I really am... in this world, I'm all my mother has,” says Lekeisha Denman-Duvall.
Her mom Susan is mostly non-verbal and has been a patient at Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for the past year.
Denman-Duvall says there have been problems along the way, particularly when it comes to her mother’s hygiene.
“I've been ignored....since she's been in there now, her nails are so long that they're overlapping her other toes,” she says. That may not sound like a big deal until you see pictures of Susan’s feet, showing long curving nails.
Denman-Duvall says she also has to regularly shower her mom during visits and bring fresh clothes and supplies, items that then end up missing.
“I have two daughters and a child on the way. So, when I spend two, three, four hundred dollars on my mother and not even 48 hours later everything is missing or on somebody else's back... That's frustrating,” she tells News10NBC.
But what pushed Denman-Duvall over the edge is what she found when she came for a visit after spending two weeks in the ICU with one of her daughters.
“There was food crusted up on the floor, there was food crusted up on the bed, she was laying in coffee stains and urine stains that were crusted,” she says.
News10NBC has been investigating Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for more than a year now. We’ve heard from a dozen families who’ve had or have loved ones in this facility.
Dave Tuper, for example, found his father dead in bed when he came for a visit back in November.
“I went in one morning I opened his door and as soon as I opened his door, I knew he was no longer with us,” he told News10NBC. He says a state investigation determined his father had died at least three hours before. He is filing a civil suit against the facility.
Joseph Foss called News10NBC back in July after one of the air conditioning systems at Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center went down and his wife was in distress. She had only been there a few months at the time but Foss was also concerned about the conditions inside and the food she was being fed.
“She's lost 30-40 pounds since she's been here,” he told News10NBC.
The most recent data available on the New York State Department of Health’s website shows that over the last 4 years, Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has been cited 68 times for health violations compared to the statewide average of 20. It’s also been cited 22 times for life safety violations compared to the average of 13. That means, Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has three times the number of citations compared to other nursing centers in New York yet it has never been fined for any of them.
So, when is enough, enough? Why do state regulators keep allowing this facility to rack up these violations? The violation and inspection data that is publicly available on the health department’s website only covers up to May of 2018 and shows that typically, the issues cited are corrected upon re-inspection.
News10NBC requested updated information and inspection data for the facility from May until September of this year but a spokesman for NYSDOH said, “ensuring the well-being of all nursing home residents is of the utmost importance of the state health department. The state health department is investigating a complaint about the quality of care at Sodus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. As this remains an active investigation, we cannot comment further.”
No comment for families who feel like their loved ones are in imminent danger. Management at Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center also failed to return our many calls and emails for comment. We also reached out to the CEO of the company that owns the facility. So far, we have not heard back.
Denman-Duvall tells News10NBC when she spoke with the administrator she was told a lot of the issues stem from a staffing shortage, “she said, I'm not trying to make excuses but we're understaffed and my staff is burnt out. Okay, I get why they're burnt out because you're understaffed but that's not my mother's problem and that's not everybody else in here's problem,” Denman-Duvall says.
News10NBC will continue to investigate and press both NYDOH for more information and Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for answers.
In the meantime, if you’d like to review the specific inspection data on Sodus Rehab and Nursing Center, you can do so here.
To check inspection/citation records of any nursing home in New York State, click here.
To file a complaint against a nursing home call 1-888-201-4563 or go to this site.