UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – New York state attorney general Letitia James announced today that her office has filed a lawsuit against a western New York Nursing Home. The A.G. is accusing the home’s ownership of years of financial fraud that resulted in resident neglect.
“It wasn’t the pandemic that claimed their lives. It was years in the making. Years of neglect and inhumane treatment. Under New York law, the nursing home has a special obligation, a special duty to provide a high-quality of care for residents and to ensure that the facilities are sufficiently staffed to provide the care. The owner failed the task at any level, instead diverting millions of government dollars that were government provided fund, tax payer’s dollars away from the facilities to increase their own personal profit and to drastically cut staffing and the villages,” said Letitia James, New York attorney general.
During the media conference, family members of the nursing home residents told us about the stunning experience of their beloved ones. Jolyn Stevens talked about how his 59-year-old brother with mental disability. “When he went in he could speak sentences, he was pretty articulate. He understood commands. He fed himself. But he was starved to death. His deterioration was partially due to medication. He was overly medicated. He could barely function. Eventually, he couldn’t speak. He couldn’t feed himself. So when he went to the hospital I can finally breathe. Staff there said he will not return to the villages. And he ultimately passed away while at the hospital,” she said.
Even before the lawsuit, an audit released early this year by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that the state Department of Health (DOH) was unprepared to respond to infectious disease outbreaks at nursing homes, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York. The study showed a persistent lack of funding for public health over the last decade forced DOH to operate without critical information systems and staff that could have identified and helped limit the spread of COVID-19 at nursing homes.
James is trying to compel the owners of The Villages to return all the funds that were fraudulently taken from the nursing home, appoint a receiver and financial monitor to stop the fraud, as well as instate a healthcare monitor to improve care. The Villages was stopped from admitting new patients for further notice.
Attorney General James encourages anyone with information or concerns about alarming nursing home conditions, resident abuse, or neglect to file confidential complaints online or call the MFCU hotline at (833) 249-8499.