SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– For Baldwinsville resident Vicki Broekhuizen, putting her father in a nursing home wasn’t an easy decision and in January 2016 the only place available to send him was Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing.
“It’s something that I don’t wish on anybody,” Broekhuizen said of her dad’s time at the facility and she said issues started the first week he arrived.
Broekhuizen said her father was not changed into new clothes for days on end, his bedding was rarely changed and the staff members were often sitting in the break room on their phones not tending to the residents’ needs.
“I would say in the whole time frame that he was there, which was approximately a year and a half I’ll bet that he was showered maybe five times,” Broekhuizen said.
When Broekhuizen would go to visit him she would find her father with black and blue eyes from falls that were never reported to her, but she says that wasn’t even the worst of it.
“He said to me one day he said can you look at my feet he said my feet are killing me and I proceeded to take his shoes off and take his socks off of which the skin was coming off with his socks,” she said.
Broekhuizen said her father’s feet were rotting away and no one was doing anything to take care of them. That’s when she went to the administration with her concerns. She said the administrator addressed some of her concerns with temporary fixes but they would come back a week later.
Broekhuizen then decided to take her complaints to the New York State Department of Health instead. She says she filed the complaint in May or June of 2017 and heard back in September 2017, a month after her father had passed away inside the facility.
The letter stated that an investigation into the claims had been completed and, “At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined there was insufficient credible evidence…and the case is now considered unsubstantiated and has been closed.”
“I actually just sat down and I just cried because I couldn’t believe that they would just let this happen to a human being especially when they’re supposed to be the Department of Health and help with people,” Broekhuizen said.
She tried to transfer her father to a different facility, but he passed before she could, guilt she lives with every day.
“I mean that was four years ago, things haven’t changed and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to know these people are in there and they’re still being treated as bad as they are,” she said.
The New York State Department of Health and a representative from Van Duyn have responded to NewsChannel 9:
Statement from Jeffrey Hammond, Deputy Director of Communications for NYS DOH:
“The New York State Department of Health reviews all complaints received about nursing homes to determine if the allegations violate federal regulations. When a complaint is unsubstantiated, the complainant receives notification from the Department, including a letter from the surveyor to discuss the outcome of the investigation. Additionally, the results of the investigation become part of the nursing home’s complaint profile and will be reviewed by Department surveyors when preparing for the next recertification survey of the nursing home. The Department will continue to hold providers who violate regulations accountable for their actions.”
Statement from Van Duyn:
“While we cannot comment on specific details due to HIPAA laws, the allegations depicted in this story are not accurate. The complaint was thoroughly investigated at the time of the occurrence in 2017, both internally and by the New York State Department of Health. With no evidence to support the allegations, the complaint was ruled unsubstantiated and subsequently closed.”