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New Roc nursing home placed on federal watch list

April 19, 2019 06:42 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Federal regulators have designated a Rochester nursing home one of the worst for patient care and safety in the country.  

New Roc Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has just been added to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Special Focus Facility (SFF) list.  

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The nursing home, located on Portland Avenue in Rochester, has had a troubled past. Back in 2014, when it was called Blossom North, 10 employees were arrested after a hidden camera investigation by the NYS Attorney General's Office found a pattern of patient neglect.

Since then, complaints about the care and conditions at the nursing home have continued to pile up.  

Over the past four years, inspectors from the New York State Department of Health have cited the facility 172 times for health and safety violations. The statewide average is 32. 

CMS identifies nursing facilities across the country that are providing the poorest care to their residents. The SFF list has three spots for nursing homes in New York state and New Roc was chosen on March 11.

Being included on the list means that New Roc will be subjected to more inspections, higher penalties and is at risk of losing Medicaid/Medicare funding if care doesn't improve.  

"You can't make enough money to make the improvements you need and so things fall further down and we have to get out of that spiral," says Christine Schaller, new administrator of New Roc.

Schaller has been brought in by a new ownership group to turn things around. The NYS DOH approved the sale of New Roc to that group just last week.    

Schaller says New Roc serves a population of residents that most other nursing homes don't want, those with mental health, substance abuse or poverty issues. Nearly all of the residents are covered under Medicaid and from a business standpoint, the margins can be thin but she says she's committed to turning things around.  

Schaller sat down for an interview with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jeniifer Lewke to talk about how New Roc got to this point and her plans to make changes.

Jennifer Lewke: "Do you have enough people, enough nurses, enough CNA's to care for the residents?" 

Chris Schaller: "We have enough, we could always use more. We are not using any agency staffing at the moment. We rely on a network of people who've worked here a long time and bring their family members and friends to work here."

Schaller says, unlike other nursing homes, staffing isn't the issue, the facility itself is. Many of the citations are related to its maintenance and cleanliness.

Lewke: "It comes down to whether the funds are there to fix the problems?"

Schaller: "Right, it's um.. well, it can be a downhill process. You don't have the money to fix things so then you can't attract new admissions."

Lewke: "When I look and see that you have five times the number of health and safety violations than the statewide average, I'm saying... I'm not coming here... so how do you change that?"

Schaller: "Umm... very slowly, little by little. We're trying to convince our referral sources that we know we have a history that's not the best but we are committed to fixing that."

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?"

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."

In a statement, a spokesman for the NYS DOH says, "The New York State Department of Health recommended federal regulators designate New Roc a Special Focus Facility because a persistent pattern of poor care was identified during its last three inspection surveys. Nursing homes designated Special Focus Facilities are inspected by the department twice as often as other nursing homes and face additional enforcement actions if significant improvement is not made."

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

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

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