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NYS Department of Health investigating resident death at Safire nursing home in Town of Tonawanda

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 08, 2022

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Health is investigating a resident death at Safire Rehabilitation of Northtowns nursing home in the Town of Tonawanda.

NYSDOH released the following statement to 7 News Tuesday evening:

“The New York State Department of Health is aware of a resident death at Safire Rehabilitation of Northtowns nursing home. Upon learning of this incident, the Department immediately opened an investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation we cannot comment further.”

A viewer provided 7 News with a photo of police vehicles in the parking lot outside of the nursing home Tuesday afternoon.

7 News has reached out to Town of Tonawanda police and Safire for comment but we have yet to hear back.

According to data from New York State, between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2021 there were 159 complaints about the facility, 35 complaint-related on-site inspections and 14 complaint-related citations. Nine of the complaints-related citations were related to residents rights, four were related to quality of care and one was related to "other issues" that could not be categorized. During the same time period, there were 103 total citations for complaints, certification and COVID-19 surveys. Sixty-three were related to standard health citations and 40 were related to life safety code citations.

State data shows between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2021 the facility was issued four different fines:

  • Feb. 2021: $24,500
  • Jan. 2021: $10,000
  • June 2020: $12,000
  • Sept. 2016: $12,000

In February and September of 2018, 7 News spoke spoke to residents and family of residents of Safire facilities who described the issues they faced.

In February 2018, Barbara Kent a resident at Safire South, told 7 News “I wish I could get out of here right now, this minute. I hate it here so bad. I can't take it...It's really bad here. Don't ever put your loved one in here, ever.”

“We make sure if we do fall out of compliance with something, we immediately react and do return to compliance,” Darrell Sokol, regional administrator of Sapphire Western Tier Facilities, told 7 News in 2018.

In September 2018, Ron Arnold a resident at Safire North, told 7 News, "if you questioned anything it was most unwelcome. It was quite touch and go several times with some of the staff."

7 News reached out to the facility for comment at the time, a staff member said a manager would call back but no call was received.