New York State's highest ranking law enforcement officer is now looking into allegations of neglect at the Niagara Rehab nursing home.
The probe by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office follows a two-month 7 Eyewitness News investigation of the Niagara Falls facility.
A source tells 7 Eyewitness News that investigators are visiting the facility and the inquiry could lead to criminal charges.
The development comes one day after Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, urged the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct its own review of the facility.
The State Department of Health is also investigating health and safety code violations at the nursing home.
After the 7 Eyewitness News investigation and subsequent stories about a death, a missing person and a heart-wrenching personal tale from the daughter of a former patient, Schneiderman's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit contacted one of those family members about filling out a formal complaint.
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes health care providers for:
- Neglecting residents by willfully failing to provide timely, consistent, adequate and safe services, such as nutrition, therapy and cleanliness.
- Mistreating residents by stealing or misusing medications, or misusing restraints or isolation.
- Physically abusing residents by striking, shaking or molesting them.
- Falsifying the resident's treatment or care records.
The unit was among the first to employ the use of hidden cameras in residents' rooms as a way to investigate the care provided by nursing homes. A 2010 investigation by the office led to the arrests and convictions of nurses at a nursing home in Amherst.
Anyone who wishes to file a complaint about Niagara Rehab or any other care facility should contact the State Health Department by phone at (888) 201-4563 or by logging on to www.health.ny.gov. Those complaints will be forwarded on to the Attorney General's Office.
Through its spokesman, Niagara Rehab put out this statement:
"The New Your State Attorney General’s office routinely investigates any and all alleged incidents of abuse, mistreatment or neglect in every nursing facility. We always have and will continue to cooperate with these investigations.
The facility has self-reported 39 incidents in accordance with state and federal regulations since January 2016. None have been substantiated by the Department of Health. The facility has had two anonymous hotline calls to the Department of Health since January 2016, both of which were unsubstantiated.
Everyday, more than 150 full and part-time, dedicated employees strive to provide quality care to the frail and sick residents we serve at Niagara Rehab. The facility is responsible to maintain the confidentially of the medical records of our residents. If the facility were able to release our internal investigations and the actual components of the medical records in relationship to these reported cases, the medical record would stand for itself in demonstrating the quality of care that is provided."
|Live video, the latest news and no surveys - download the WKBW app|
|News, forecast and Bills newsletters delivered to your e-mail inbox|