Care com­pro­mised, ex-nurse at Buf­falo nurs­ing home says

For­mer em­ployee cites un­der­staffing, lack of sup­plies at El­li­cott Cen­ter

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Lou Michel NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

“I left be­cause eth­i­cally and morally I couldn’t han­dle it any­more.” – Joy El­iz­a­beth Cata­lano for­mer di­rec­tor of nurs­ing at El­li­cott Cen­ter.

For Joy El­iz­a­beth Cata­lano, the break­ing point came the night more than a dozen nurses and aides called in sick.

Then the di­rec­tor of nurs­ing at Buf­falo’s El­li­cott Cen­ter for Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Nurs­ing, Cata­lano re­called only three li­censed prac­ti­cal nurses and one cer­ti­fied nurs­ing aide on duty that night in June 2017 to care for about 150 res­i­dents. Nor­mally, she said, there would have been 16 or more nurs­ing staff.

A month later, Cata­lano re­signed.

“I left be­cause eth­i­cally and morally I couldn’t han­dle it any­more,” Cata­lano said.

Cata­lano shared her ex­pe­ri­ences at El­li­cott Cen­ter af­ter read­ing a Buf­falo News story about a woman who lost her left eye in 2016 be­cause of the nurs­ing home’s fail­ure to ad­min­is­ter drops to her eye fol­low­ing cataract surgery.

Cata­lano said she was hired in 2017 to help im­ple­ment a plan to pre­vent sim­i­lar in­ci­dents. But af­ter five months, she said, un­der­staffing, a lack of sup­plies, in­clud­ing clean tow­els and sheets, and the fail­ure of the fa­cil­ity’s out-oftown own­ers to cor­rect those prob­lems led to her de­ci­sion to leave. ANAL­Y­SIS

The News’ on­go­ing se­ries of sto­ries on nurs­ing homes found that 16 of the 47 nurs­ing homes in Erie and Ni­a­gara coun­ties have been bought by for-profit, out-of-town in­vestors in the last 11 years. Most of those homes are among the worst rated in the re­gion, have a high rate of com­plaints that re­sult in ci­ta­tions from the state Health Depart­ment and have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of fines. Time spent per day by reg­is­tered nurses with res­i­dents at th­ese homes is of­ten less than the state aver­age.

El­li­cott Cen­ter is among those nurs­ing homes. In Oc­to­ber, it dropped from an over­all two-star rat­ing, or “be­low aver­age, to a one-star rat­ing, “much be­low aver­age,” the low­est rat­ing in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s five-star sys­tem for nurs­ing homes.

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