‘It’s like a prison’ says resident at Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– A living nightmare. That’s how Shari describes the past five and a half years at Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing.

“It’s like a prison, but you ain’t do the crime but you gotta do all this time.”

resident shari, van duyn rehabilitation and nursing

Shari was placed in Van Duyn for short term rehab in 2016, but her sister says things took a turn for the worse after she was moved to long term nursing. 

“She’s supposed to be up very early before 8am and with that comes getting her cleaned up from the night before and changed and into clean clothes so that piece happens quite often where it doesn’t happen,” Shari’s sister Debbie said.

Shari said that her normal shower day is on a Tuesday but that she hasn’t been given one in a couple of weeks. Her and her sister Debbie said the neglect has always been an issue, but the pandemic only made it worse.

Since visits were limited, Shari’s family feared she was being poorly treated and those fears came true. 

“Sometimes I’ll get a call at two in the morning and she’ll say I haven’t been changed since 9 o’clock this morning,” Shari’s daughter Brianna said.

That day, Shari had been sitting in her own human waste for 31 hours and Brianna said this has happened multiple times. 

When the family calls Van Duyn to get someone to help, it goes straight to voicemail and no one calls them back.

“The administration itself is very difficult to speak to, I personally contacted the administrator a couple months ago and I called him every week for that entire month and I never received a return phone call,” Debbie said.

So instead, Debbie called the New York State Department of Health, filing at least four complaints, and she’s not the only one. 

According to DOH records, Van Duyn has received 374 complaints from August 2017-July 2021 leading to 89 citations, 66 more than the state average.

In June alone this year, the state investigated 25 different types of complaints, all of which the state has listed as corrected.

As Shari’s family waits for the investigations into her care to be complete, her loved ones are working to get her moved to a different facility. 

“We just put in a request with a social worker last week so he said that things are starting to open up so maybe they’ll review them now,” Debbie said.

And Shari said she wants to get out.

“Like not now, but like right now.”


The Van Duyn administration declined to go on camera with us for an interview but sent a statement. You can read the full statement below. 

First and most importantly, Van Duyn’s administrators want to assure you that there is nothing more important to us than the care and wellbeing of our residents, and that they are receiving the care and respect they deserve in our facility. We believe that everyone is on the same team in wanting the best possible care for them.

The COVID-19 pandemic was, of course, devastating for the entire healthcare industry. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities like Van Duyn were especially challenged. Van Duyn has experienced significant staffing challenges related to the lack of healthcare workers including, but not limited to, nurses and certified nursing assistants. This caused unfortunate, yet unavoidable, delays in care.

Our administration is taking appropriate steps to ensure that our treasured seniors are receiving the level of care they require and deserve. Some of our current efforts include:

Working to recruit and retain the very best healthcare workers for our facility to alleviate the impact of staffing challenges.

Advocating for legislation that will allow Certified Medication Aides (CMAs) to work in nursing facilities and administer medications, freeing up time for RNs and LPNs to focus on resident care.

Stopping new admissions in order to focus on providing the very best care to our current residents. (161 of our 513 beds are currently not being filled.)

Working with elected officials to draw attention to the issues we are facing, so they may use this information to advocate for our residents and our facility.

We understand the tremendous responsibility we have as caregivers for our treasured residents, and we take that responsibility seriously. If residents or family members have concerns we encourage them to reach out to administrators directly, so that we can respond promptly.

Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing

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