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New Roc nursing home employees describe conditions inside

May 29, 2019 07:09 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- It's already on the state's "Special Focus Facility" list for a slew of health and safety violations.

Now, those who work at New Roc Nursing and Rehabilitation Center along Portland Avenue in Rochester say the building itself is deteriorating and the residents aren't getting the supplies they need to stay clean and safe.    

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The nurses and nursing assistants are members of 1199SEIU who have been working without a contract for the past two years. On Wednesday, they held an informational picket to push the new ownership group to change that but they also provided a lot of information about what they say has been going on inside New Roc for the past several years.  

News10NBC has been reporting on the issues at New Roc for the past few months. There are new owners who are promising to turn things around but that's a promise employees and residents have heard before.    

"Our checks recently bounced…you don't always have the proper supplies that you need to be able to do your job…it could be anything, washcloths, towels, soap. It's the small things you wouldn't think that you would have to go without, we go without," says LPN Juanita Burgess.

She says nurses and CNAs often use their own money to buy hygiene products for the residents.  

Inspectors from the New York State Department of Health have cited the nursing home 172 times over the past few years for health and life safety violations, compared to the statewide average of 32.  

In April, just after the facility was put on the SFF list, the new administrator at New Roc sat down with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke for an interview on her plan to turn things around.  

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke: "I'm sure there's been other people in your position that said, 'we're going to start new, we're going to start fresh...I'm going to get this place under control.' What makes you different?"

Christine Schaller: "I'm very passionate about fixing this place. I think it fills a niche in the Rochester health care system. I'm not young. I feel kind of like I would like to end my career on this success that we turned around a place that's been troubled for a while."

On Wednesday, when reached by phone, Schaller didn't deny any of the stories shared by the nurses. 

She also admitted the maintenance of the building hadn't been kept up but she says she's trying to tackle one problem at a time. She also said the new ownership group will be ready to make investments when the sale of the facility is final which is likely to happen this summer.

As far as a new contract with the employees, Schaller says she is currently in the negotiating process and reaching an agreement is a top priority. 

"It's hard to say whether I've seen improvements because we've been through this a number of times where people will come in and try to do what they can and it just doesn't happen. We have seen small changes. I will give them that this time but we can't trust the fact that it's going to stay that way," says Burgess.

News10NBC did some digging on the five-member ownership group that is taking over New Roc.

None of the members currently have any ownership stake in any other nursing homes in New York state. They plan to change the name of the facility from New Roc to The Pearl.

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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