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Van Duyn responds to funeral home director's reports of a decomposing body on site

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - A Syracuse funeral home director has reached out to fellow directors in the area after she says a nursing home gave her the body of a decomposed patient.

Patty Knight Scholl of Keegan-Osbelt-Knight Funeral Homes, claims that the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing failed to keep the body of a patient from decomposing because it was being stored in a malfunctioning cooler. 

Scholl says the patient died last week, and she was contacted by the family about the death a day later. 

She says the center contacted her on March 17, demanding that she take custody of the body because of "limited" space. 

The decedent was scheduled to be cremated on Monday. 

According to Scholl, her colleague from the funeral home went to Van Duyn on Sunday and found the body to be decomposing.

Scholl said she filed a report with the state health department and spoke to Van Duyn's interim administrator. 

Van Duyn responded to Scholl's claims with the following statement:

We take both life and death seriously and have the utmost respect for both. Proper, respectful and timely transfer of a deceased individual is of paramount responsibility.

We take these concerns very seriously, find it deeply disturbing and feel compelled to offer the following confirmations, clarifications and assurance.

Van Duyn does not have, or operate, a morgue. Rather, the facility has one cooler for temporary placement of deceased residents. Recently deceased residents are placed in this cooler between the time of their passing and the time the funeral home accepts their body. Typically, this is for just a few hours. Van Duyn is not equipped to hold deceased patients for lengths of time nor is that a nursing home best practice.

Most funeral homes respond promptly when receiving a call from a nursing home.

Beyond this specific event, Van Duyn is acutely aware of patient satisfaction issues at our rehabilitation and nursing facility. We have been working with our residents, our residents’ families, our family council, Pastor Daren Jaime, and our community partners to pave a path forward to provide excellent care to each of our residents.

As you know, we’re working to address resident satisfaction concerns. Many noticeable changes have been made, more will be made in the days, weeks and months to come, and we will announce those changes shortly.


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