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Exclusive: News10NBC tracks down the owner of Sodus nursing home

October 05, 2018 06:27 AM

For the past year, News10NBC has been reporting on the conditions and care inside Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. 

Families and former patients have shared horror stories, one man finding his father dead when he arrived for a visit, another woman finding her mother in a filthy bed with stained sheets and a former patient who nearly lost her leg from an untreated infection.   

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Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has three times the number of health and safety violations compared to the state-wide average. 

Six separate employees have told News10NBC that the facility is severely understaffed. At times, they only have one certified nursing assistant for every 40 patients.   

News10NBC has reached out to the CEO of Personal Healthcare LLC, the company that owns Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, more than a dozen times for comment. 

Our calls, emails and social media messages have all been ignored. 

So, this week, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke went down to Westchester County to find CEO Ephraim Zagelbaum.

 After two days of waiting near his office, she confronted him in the parking lot.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke - "Excuse me, Mr. Zagelbaum. Can we talk to you for a moment?  My name is Jenn Lewke. I've been trying to reach you for a few weeks now to talk about the nursing home you own in Sodus. You won't answer a couple of questions about the conditions inside that nursing home?" 

Ephraim Zagelbaum - "I'm not answering any questions." 

Lewke - "How come? Why can't you? Why can't you answer questions about the conditions sir?  At your nursing home in Sodus?" 

The door was then slammed in Lewke's face. Lewke waited for Zagelbaum outside the door to his office but he didn't come back. Instead, he sent out an employee.

Employee - "This is private property. Are you a camera crew?" 

Lewke - "Yes, obviously."

Employee - "So, if you could please leave. You're not allowed on private property." 

Lewke - "Okay, we were hoping to speak with Mr. Zagelbaum." 

Employee - "Um, again he's not available so... "

Lewke - "Well, we saw him come in, so we know he's here. He doesn't want to come back out?"

Employee - "Like I've said, he's not available and if you could please leave, I'd appreciate it." 

Lewke – "Sure, we'll leave."   

Lewke and her photographer then moved to a public sidewalk nearby but Zagelbaum didn't like that either and called the Tarrytown Police Department. 

Three officers responded to tell News10NBC that they were well within their rights to be on public property. 

Zagelbaum never came back out but several hours later, Lewke received an email from Judson MacCaull who claims to be the new administrator at Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

MacCaull says the entire senior management team was replaced including the administrator, the director of nursing services and the assistant director of nursing. 

His email went on to say:  

"Many residents are proud to call Sodus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center their home. This facility is an employer of choice for many local staff who are committed and dedicated to serving the needs of these residents with compassionate care – all proud of the valuable service they provide their hometown and community. The ownership and administration of Sodus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center acknowledge and thoroughly investigate all concerns brought to staff attention. All residents, family and staff are encouraged to use our complaint management system to inform the staff and leadership of concerns so that they are addressed immediately. To protect the privacy of our residents and in accordance with HIPPA regulations, Sodus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center is not permitted to disclose any details involving any investigation that includes sensitive resident information."

Lewke responded to MacCaull's email immediately asking him for an interview, she did not get a response.  

A spokesman for the New York State Department of Health confirms that the facility has notified the department of a leadership change and very recently requested a meeting with DOH to discuss the best ways to move forward.  

The New York State Attorney General's office is also investigating.  

Individuals who have a complaint or concerns about nursing homes should call the DOH's Centralized Complaint Intake at 1-888-201-4563. To search a nursing home's inspection records, click here.

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Former Sodus nursing home patient: "I would have laid in that bed and died"

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Are staffing shortages leading to subpar care at Sodus nursing home?

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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