New York State has been criticized for years for not cracking down on poor nursing homes.
But rarely does someone take the drastic step of trying to escape out of a third-floor window, as police say 87-year-old William Strasner did Monday before he fell to his death outside Emerald South Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.
The desperation in that attempt is something the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team heard first in March when we investigated the Safire South nursing home in South Buffalo and spoke with resident Barbara Kent. Safire is part of the same ownership group that operates Emerald South.
“It's really bad here,” Kent told the I-Team in March. “Don't ever put you loved one in here, ever.”
Public records reveal both of these nursing homes -- Emerald and Safire -- are rated two out of five stars -- what the federal government classifies as “below average” -- and they share at least one common owner, identified in public records as Judy Landa. The owners of both homes are from the New York City area.
Managers at the nursing homes declined to comment Monday, but ever since the 7 Eyewitness News I-team first looked into Safire months ago, we've heard warning signs about staffing issues at Emerald South.
"RNs have been forced into working 24 hours straight," a former employee e-mailed the I-Team in March. "The care if awful...The residents are in imminent danger."
State and federal records appear to back up those statements, as the federal Medicaid website states, "This nursing home has reported a high number of days with no registered nurse staffing."
The state cited Emerald South just twice in its most recent inspection, but in February of last year it cited emerald for 24 violations in one visit, including not keeping residents free from accident hazards.
Statewide, nursing homes average 2.5 deficiencies for every 100 beds, but state health records show Emerald South averages 27.6 deficiencies. That’s 11 times more deficiencies than the average nursing home in New York State.