A nursing home in Wayne County has three times the number of citations compared to the statewide average

SODUS — The outrage over the conditions inside a Wayne County nursing home is growing.

On Tuesday, the Daily Messenger's news partner News 10NBC revealed recent pictures and video from inside Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center that show stained bed sheets, mold-covered drawers, dirty floors and furniture and overgrown toenails.

Since then, News 10NBC has heard from dozens of other families with their own stories about the care their loved ones received inside — and has spoken with six former and current employees who say they're doing the best they can in a bad situation.

The employees all had similar stories of staffing shortages. They say there is just not enough people working there to keep up with the demand of people who live there. 

State records show that over the last four years, Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center had three times the number of health and safety violations compared to the statewide average.

The most recent data available on the New York State Department of Health’s website shows that over the last four years, the nursing home 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.

State regulators give it an overall rating of two out of five stars. Federal regulators give it an overall rating of "well below average," which has many people wondering, why don't people get their loved ones out?

"The waiting list is very high, and there has to be an open bed and she has to be accepted, so it's not something that you can just do overnight," says Lekeisha Denman-Duvall, whose mother is a patient.

More than 70 percent of people in New York State nursing homes are on Medicaid and the reimbursements aren't nearly as high as private-pay patients, so at the moment, there's nowhere else many of them can go. That's why Denman-Duvall and other families want state regulators to step up and do more to hold the facility accountable. 

Denman-Duvall's mom Susan is mostly non-verbal and has been a patient at the nursing home 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 said.  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 said.

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 said. 

Dave Tuper 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 said. 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 News 10NBC 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 said.

In a new statement issued late Wednesday afternoon, state Department of Health Spokesman Jeffrey Hammond says, "The New York State Department of Health takes the health and safety of all nursing home residents very seriously. The department initiates an investigation whenever a complaint is received that alleges a violation of state or federal regulations. Over the past year, the department has responded to complaints at Sodus Rehabilitation and conducted onsite investigations where appropriate. When we have substantiated deficiencies, we have required the facility to take corrective actions. The department will continue to hold providers who violate regulations accountable for their actions or lack thereof." 

Hammond would not say how many complaints have been filed since May of 2018, the nature of the complaints or the actions that have been taken. 

What about the staffing issues that employees raise?

They tell News 10NBC, at times, there is only one certified nursing assistant to every 30 to 40 patients.

Federal law says there has to be one registered nurse on-site for at least eight hours a day and one licensed practical nurse on duty 24/7, but other than that, there are no staffing regulations that need to be met. 

Over the past two weeks, a News 10NBC investigative reporter's numerous calls and emails for management at Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center have gone unreturned. News 10NBC has also been calling, emailing and reaching out on social media to the CEO of the LLC that owns the facility. So far, he hasn't returned the messages either.  

To review the specific inspection data on Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, see https://profiles.health.ny.gov/nursing_home/view/150604

To check inspection/citation records of any nursing home in New York State, see https://profiles.health.ny.gov/nursing_home/

To file a complaint against a nursing home, call 1-888-201-4563 or see https://apps.health.ny.gov/nursing_homes/complaint_form/complain.action