City of Oswego Mayor opens public investigation into Pontiac Care and Rehab Center

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OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow opened an investigation into the Pontiac Care and Rehabilitation Center Thursday.

As part of the investigation, the Oswego Police Department will accept confidential public testimony, photographs, videos, and other information from past and present employees, former residents, current residents, and family members of former and current residents.

Mayor Barlow says he wants to shine a brighter light on what he believes is going on.”What I hope it will do is it will confirm what everybody knows, and it will urge the state department of health to take action.”

“The horror stories surrounding the Pontiac Care and Rehab Center are too long to list and go back many, many years. From horrendous living conditions to the appalling and abusive treatment of residents, to the threats made to employees, it truly is a miracle the Pontiac is allowed to operate as normal,” said Mayor Barlow. “If we can collect and compile information from the public on their personal experiences with this facility, and turn it over to authorities, we will significantly increase the likelihood that the state regulatory agencies will step up and take the appropriate actions that are so desperately needed, but I need the help of the public who have direct experiences with this facility. We have to be a voice for the voiceless, stand up for the vulnerable and I can’t allow this situation to continue in our community without trying to do something about it.”

The Pontiac Care and Rehabilitation Center has been the source of recent news created by an investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office and Oswego Police Department into a registered sex offender abusing other residents in the facility. In recent years, the Pontiac has dealt with criminal charges against employees and court settlements relating to the death of residents and in 2019 the building was cited for major building code violations, including rainwater running into buckets placed in the rooms of patients.

Oswego Police Investigator Derek Jansson will lead the investigation. Employees, residents, individuals, and families can call (315) 342-8212 or email djansson@oswegony.org. All information collected will be kept confidential and eventually turned over to state authorities and relevant state agencies.

Lawyers for Pontiac released this statement:

“Pontiac Nursing Home and its dedicated staff are saddened at Mayor Barlow’s open and obvious attempts to score cheap political points by continuing to spread, in the Pontiac Nursing Home’s opinion, false and malicious comments and allegations against Pontiac Nursing Home and its employees.  On multiple occasions Pontiac Nursing Home has made it clear that it not only welcomed the assistance and oversight of the State’s Special Focus Facilities Program but that it also wished to work in a collaborative and productive manner with any other State or local official to build upon the improvements to Pontiac Nursing Home that have already been made.  Rather than using this opportunity to bring the City together, Mayor Barlow has chosen to further divide the citizens of Oswego by trying to turn the hard working citizens into the Mayor’s personal fishing expedition and informant squad.  His latest actions and comments are beneath the office of the Mayor. 

Mayor Barlow’s purported “Open Investigation” is nothing more than an attempted improper usurpation of New York State law.  Public Health Law Section 2800 and 2812 prohibits local governments from regulating or setting standards for hospitals.  Hospitals under the relevant provision of law, includes nursing homes such as Pontiac Nursing Home.  The owners, operators and staff of Pontiac Nursing Home have been working with the Special Focus Facilities Program and its representatives to address concerns that have arisen out of past complaints at the Home.  Given the opportunity to work with the Home and the State representatives, Mayor Barlow has chosen to erect a fence designed to hamper, slow and delay progress all the while lobbing insults, vague allegations of wrongdoing and politically expedient talking points.  Despite having no incentive to do so, Pontiac Nursing Home once again invites Mayor Barlow to the table to become part of the solution rather than instigating more strife and division.”

Langston McFadden, Esq.

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