The state Department of Health is investigating staffing levels and living conditions for seniors at Sapphire Nursing and Rehab at Goshen, amid calls by local politicians to do so.
U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and state Assemblyman James Skoufis asked the state Department of Health on Thursday to investigate staffing levels and living conditions for seniors at Sapphire.
The Health Department confirmed Thursday that an investigation had been launched. Last month, the home formerly known as Elant at Goshen laid off more than half its nurses, according to layoff letters and staff memos obtained by the Times Herald-Record.
Since the recent completion of its sale by nonprofit Elant to for-profit Goshen Operations, the home was rebranded Sapphire.
Sapphire’s nurse tally has fallen 54 percent since June to 17 nurses, including two registered nurses and 15 licensed practical nurses, according to 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
Six months ago, there were 37 nurses — 12 RNs and 25 LPNs, the union said.
This month, the 120-bed home began using one LPN per every 40 residents from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. compared with one LPN per 20 residents previously, the union said. Seven of the home’s leaders, including Sapphire Executive Administrator Crystal Cummings, and key staff members have either resigned or been laid off since mid-December, the union added.
“The reports we’re getting from family members of folks at Sapphire and the local health care community are incredibly disturbing, and we must get to the bottom of it,” Maloney said in a statement. “Denying these older Americans the dignity and comprehensive care they deserve is infuriating, and Assemblyman Skoufis and I will stay on this until we’re sure they’re getting the level of respect and care they deserve.”
Skoufis released his own statement echoing Maloney’s concerns.
“Patients, family members and their nurses deserve far better than what we’ve seen out of Sapphire,” Skoufis wrote. “From the reports I’ve received, the level of care has been ravaged due to the for-profit owners’ excessive cuts. The Department of Health needs to intervene, and quickly.”
Reached by phone Thursday, new Sapphire Administrator Audrey Lewin declined to comment.
State Department of Health spokeswoman Jill Montag said, “The New York state Department of Health takes the safety and well-being of nursing home residents very seriously.” She declined to comment further because the department’s investigation is ongoing.