Senator May and Senator Mannion Send Letters to Governor Hochul and Van Duyn Administrators

Syracuse, NY – Yesterday, Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) and Senator John W. Mannion (D-Onondaga, Cayuga) submitted letters to both Governor Kathy Hochul and the administrators of Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse. The letter to Governor Hochul requests her administration to take decisive action to address this ongoing crisis. The letter to the facility administrators requests immediate answers on what steps they are taking or are planning in the immediate future to ensure appropriate and comprehensive caregiving and safe, sanitary conditions.

“Recent reporting from the Post-Standard raises grave concerns about the conditions inside of Van Duyn,” said Senator Rachel May, Chair of the Senate Aging Committee. “Since the article came out, my office has received calls describing similar issues at this facility, which illustrates a pervasive failure to adequately care for residents and provide safe working conditions for staff. The facility’s administration must answer our questions immediately and the NYS Department of Health must follow up to ensure Van Duyn residents and staff are in a safe, healthy environment.”

“The situation at Van Duyn is unsafe and unacceptable,” said Senator John W. Mannion. “We’re asking the relevant state agencies to take any and all necessary actions to ensure that the people of our community get the care they need and deserve.”

 

23 September 2021

The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Hochul,

We write to you today with grave concerns about the situation at Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse. Syracuse.com recently published an exposé based on the accounts of dozens of current and former residents, family members, and staff. The article echoes many reports we have heard in recent months from constituents about the situation at Van Duyn,  where residents are suffering from neglect and staff are overworked and underpaid. We believe that Van Duyn is currently extremely unsafe for both residents and staff, and we strongly encourage your administration to take decisive action to address this ongoing crisis.

While this is not the first time that Van Duyn has experienced issues, the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated long-standing problems at the facility. In the past year, Van Duyn residents have gone extended hours without seeing an aide, have missed critical medicines for days, and have tragically seen some of their neighbors die in preventable accidents. Syracuse.com details how residents have opted to call 911 in the face of persistent neglect. This is only a small slice of the troubles plaguing Van Duyn residents and staff. These troubles are persistent and have reached a crisis point. Without strong action on the part of the state, we believe there will be no improvement, residents will continue to suffer and more will likely die.

Van Duyn was purchased from the County in 2012 by Upstate Services Group. Upon assuming ownership of the facility, USG promised significant reforms to improve the quality of life for Van  Duyn residents and their families. They have failed in this mission; indeed, Van Duyn residents are likely far worse off because of their neglectful ownership. From conversations with the long

term care ombudsman, we understand that USG’s facilities across the region are the source of unusually high numbers of complaints. While the state Department of Health and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are conducting inspections and waiting to see if USG will successfully make improvements at Van Duyn, we believe the residents and their families have waited long enough for USG to fulfill its duties of care.

We urge you, through DOH, to consider all options at the State’s disposal. DOH should send inspectors on a frequent basis, unannounced, to ensure a safe and healthy environment for residents and staff while they consider and implement speedy remedies. We further encourage you to work with the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, the CMS and HHS Offices of the Inspector General, and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control unit to oversee the situation and  ensure full accountability for the owners.

Thank you for your attention to this. We look forward to further conversations and are ready to provide whatever assistance we can.

Sincerely,

Senator Rachel May 53rd District
Senator John W. Mannion 50th District