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News10NBC Investigates: Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center cited again, NYS AG investigating

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: November 12, 2019 11:34 PM
Created: November 12, 2019 05:23 PM

SODUS, N.Y. (WHEC) —  Another inspection, 9 more violations. Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has been at the center of a years-long News10NBC investigation and state regulators continue to find problems.  

According to the most recent state records, inspectors from the New York State Department of Health found violations regarding how the facility is caring for its patients, the food it’s feeding them and whether or not it’s protecting them from infection. 

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The pictures that family members have shared of the conditions inside Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center over the last two years speak for themselves.

“It's understaffed, the few that are there that care, really care and the ones that don't care, you can tell they really don't care,” former patient Liz Yancy told News10NBC.

“I'm here eight hours at a time, no one comes in and puts pillows under the man, turns him, does anything. I push the button for 35 minutes I sit there and finally go to the desk and find no one,” Joi Ann Mitchell, whose loved one was a patient told News10NBC.

Last year, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke traveled to Westchester County to track down the owner of Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. After her visit, he replaced the management and insisted the facility was working to improve resident care but even after that promise, Mitchell’s loved one was found with bedsores so bad, he had to be hospitalized.  

“I sat in the room and I said to them, I really don't want to come here. I'll tell you the truth, I don't want to come here at all. I'm nervous about this place. So, they brought out some papers and said, ‘Well, let me tell you Channel 10 News has been after us forever and all these allegations are untrue,’” Mitchell said they claimed.

Inspectors from the State Health Department continue to back up the reporting News10NBC has done on the facility. During their most recent annual inspection over the summer, Sodus Rehab was cited 9 more times for health and safety violations, bringing the total number of standard health and life safety citations the facility has faced since October 2015 to 102; more than three times the statewide average of 32.

Before she was elected State Attorney General, Leticia James watched News10NBC’s reports on Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and promised to look into it if elected. Earlier this year, News10NBC confirmed inspectors from the AG’s Medicaid Fraud unit were inside the facility. 

During a recent trip to Rochester, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke asked her for an update:

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC): You and I spoke when you were a candidate about a nursing home in our area, Sodus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, your Medicaid inspectors have been inside that center, what you can tell us about the investigation going on there?  

AG James: And you should know that I can't tell you much about our investigations other than to say we are focusing on that nursing home and hopefully we'll have something to report very shortly. 

Jennifer Lewke: Any timeline?  

AG James: I can't tell you that either, I can just tell you that we're working on it.

Jennifer Lewke: What would your message be to folks who have loved ones in that nursing home in the meantime?

AG James: As someone who took care of her mother until she passed, I recognize and understand how important it is that we care for individuals who are in the care of facilities...we have a responsibility and a duty to maintain a certain level of care and any institution that falls below that standard, our office has a responsibility to prosecute those individuals and or investigate the circumstances surrounding it… I will not tolerate any abuse against any senior citizens in the great state of New York, I can assure you of that.

In an emailed response, the administrator of Sodus Rehabilitation, Judson MacCaull wrote: 

“Again, we are very proud of the services provided to residents here at Sodus. All of our employees have worked hard to ensure that fully appropriate care is furnished to all. Not only is there no ‘IJ’ but the cited deficiencies are not ‘serious’ in the context you have set forth. The State issued a letter dated August 30th noting that our plan of correction was accepted, a re-visit conducted resulting in notification to CMS (the Federal oversight agency for SNFs) that “the facility is in substantial compliance with Federal and State requirements” governing nursing homes. I am not sure if you are aware of the ongoing survey process, however, level D deficiencies and life-safety deficiencies may be routinely found and then subject to correction for all nursing homes across the nation.  As I stated previously and would re-affirm, ‘We strive to avoid such harm but no facility can be perfect. In fact, although you have cited numerous statistics, you have failed to note that our facility in Sodus is dramatically below the statewide average for actual harm or immediate jeopardy involving residents. Our facility is at a very small 2%  level of actual harm/immediate jeopardy whereas the statewide average is 60%. This shows you that the mere number of findings is not indicative of actual harmful results to residents. Drilling down further, even the instances of actual harm at Sodus were found to be “isolated” and not widespread.’ We welcome surveys and our employees and interdisciplinary care teams look forward to full cooperation with State and Federal agencies in surveys and review because we all care about proper and compassionate care for our residents. That being the case, we would hope that the public is provided with truthful information in a context which is not misleading. Thank you for your review of our response.”


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