QUEENSBURY — Loved ones of residents at Glens Falls Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation have organized in recent weeks over complaints about a decline in care since the home was sold to a New York City-based company that operates a number of other nursing homes in the region.
The home at the corner of Sherman and Western avenues was known as The Stanton for decades, until representatives of Centers Health Care bought it last year.
Centers owns and/or operates at least six other homes in the region, including three former county-owned homes, and some questions were raised about the company’s standard of care when it bought Warren County’s Westmount Health Facility in December 2015.
A spokesman for the company said it is working to make improvements, and that staffing issues were present when Centers Health Care took over at the home. The company is working to have “experienced, stable and capable clinical staff” at the home, while working with families about their concerns, he said.
Residents say they quickly saw changes in staffing and quality of food and equipment. The administrator and most nurses and aides left and were replaced by staff brought in from outside the region. (The administrator left in March 2017, after the sale was announced but before it was finalized, according to Centers Health Care.)
An estimated two dozen family members held a meeting Tuesday night in Queensbury to discuss how to get their concerns addressed. They planned to serve the home’s administrator with a list of complaints on Friday and to notify the state Department of Health as well.
Three people who were in attendance relayed their concerns to The Post-Star in recent days. Two women who have a parent in the home spoke on condition of anonymity, out of fear of retribution against their parents.
“The situation has gotten worse,” said Glens Falls resident Armando Arevalo, whose wife suffers from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and has been at the home for seven years. “The major concern is a lack of personnel. They don’t schedule enough people to take care of the residents.”
He said the problems seem to stem from “management’s” handling of aides and nurses, while the workers themselves seem to have care and concern for residents.
Arevalo and one of the other family members said staffing routinely includes just one aide for 20 residents and one registered nurse for two floors.
Both of the women said residents have been left in the same clothes for days at a time, sleeping in them and then wearing them the next day, and the adult diapers now being used are inadequate.
They say the menu declined, with one of the women saying her mother has been served cold hamburgers and side dishes, while the other said a peanut butter sandwich was served for dinner one night.
“There are a lot of issues,” one said.
Both women said they have tried to find a way to transfer their loved ones to Fort Hudson Nursing Center in Fort Edward, the Glens Falls area’s highest rated nursing home, but it has a waiting list.
A spokesman for Centers Health Care responded to Post-Star inquiries in writing on Thursday, saying staff at the home had fallen “below optimum levels” before the purchase went forward.
“Since then, we employed our proven methods to turn that situation around,” spokesman Jeffery Jacomowitz wrote. “Intense on-going training to improve the care and service capabilities of existing staff, aggressive recruiting efforts with stringent requirements for acceptance, and staff development through tuition assistance programs and work-study accommodations are all contributing to the turnaround we are experiencing. Staffing at Glens Falls Center is becoming more stable. Since joining Centers, the facility has added 14 full-time Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) alone.”
He said the company formed a “Family Council” to improve communication with family members and provide them with a forum to voice concerns. The company also holds monthly Food Council meetings to give residents a forum to comment about the current menu selection and allows residents and families to make suggestions for future meal choices. An alternative meal option is provided for each menu item at each meal and a “cook to order” breakfast program is being tested each Wednesday morning.
“Center’s clinical leadership and staffing teams work closely with each facility’s management team to achieve sustainable, quality staffing levels necessary to provide excellent care. Experience has shown that simply adding more people in a building does not resolve care issues related to staff,” he added. “Maintaining experienced, stable and capable clinical staff is more impactful and that is the direction we have chosen. Our budgeted staffing levels are continuing to improve and our efforts to add additional, quality staff are ongoing. Like other facilities in this region and beyond, we grapple with the real-world nursing shortages that both long-term care facilities and hospitals are faced with.”