News10NBC Investigates: Family says understaffed local nursing home failed to give their mother her medication. The mother died six days after discovery.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. A Rochester family is now preparing for a funeral on Friday.

The nursing home once called The Shore Winds has a new name, Waterview Heights. But the family says the nursing home is plagued with the same old problems, not the least of which is a critical staffing shortage. 

And they say their mother didn’t get her meds because for days there was no one on staff who could give them to her. 

Just two months ago, 85-year-old Carol Lennox was healthy and happy. The family shared a video of her dancing in her wheelchair at a family wedding. Lennox’s daughters say she was fun-loving and full of life. At the time, Lennox was living independently with her husband of 62 years. Then she was diagnosed with COVID in early October.

Lennox got pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. Finally, in November she was well enough to leave the hospital, but doctors said she would need full-time nursing home care. The family searched for a week and only one facility had space, Waterview Heights, formerly known as The Shore Winds.

 “Her doctor said I don’t want her going there, but we had no choice,” said Kathy Slocum, Lennox’s daughter. “That was the only place that had a bed.”

 The family visited daily and said they were immediately concerned when they often found their mother dirty and lying on a soiled bed.

 “The visits seemed to get worse and worse as we go and then Sunday, Nov. 20, when I walked in she was terrible,” Slocum recalled.

 She says her mother was struggling to breathe, so she ran to find a nurse. She says that’s when the certified nursing assistant on staff told her, “We don’t have a nurse on staff on the weekends.”

New York State law regarding nursing home staffing mandates that each resident must get at least 3.5 hours of care per day. Of that, CNAs must provide no fewer than 2.2 hours and a nurse must provide at least 1.1 hours. New York law also says that only nurses can administer medications.

“I said, Did she have her meds?” Slocum remembers asking the CNA. “He goes, ‘I can’t give her meds. I’m only a CNA.’ And I go, ‘So you mean to tell me that she has not had any meds this morning?’ He goes, ‘No I’ve been here since 6:30 this morning and nobody’s gotten their meds.’ I go, ‘Nobody? Nobody.'” 

 The family called an ambulance to take her to the hospital, and for days the large family filled her room.

 “When she was in the hospital everybody was gathered around her and she would look at us and say ‘This means more than a million dollars having my family gathered around me.'” Lennox’s greatest joy was getting to meet her youngest great-grandchild for the first time.

 And six days later, that big family of 10 children, 28 grandkids and 10 great-grandkids would say goodbye. Carol Ann Lenox died on Saturday, and her daughters are now preparing to bury their mother.

 “She was the rock of our family,” said Patty Grimshaw, Lennox’s daughter.

 Lennox’s wake is Thursday and her funeral is Friday. But her family says it was important to talk to me because they’re concerned about the safety of other residents at Waterview Heights. As for the NY State Department of Health, it confirms that it’s currently investigating a complaint regarding Waterview Heights, but the department will not confirm that it’s this family’s complaint.

The nursing home is owned by The Grand Healthcare System and I spoke to Bruce Gendron, a company vice president. He told me, “I find it hard to believe there was no nurse on staff.”

He further said that would be a violation of the nursing home’s policy. But he assured me that he’s forwarded the complaint to Waterview Heights’ managers, and they’re investigating.