List shows more than half of nursing homes not in compliance with Ruthie’s Law

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A twice-annual report from Erie County Senior Services has listed 17 out of 35 of the county’s nursing homes as in compliance with Ruthie’s Law.

The law requires nursing homes to inform family members within two hours when a resident suffers a serious injury. It is named after Ruth Murray, who died in 2016 after an incident involving another resident of the former Emerald South Nursing home.

Just 18 of 35 nursing homes were listed as compliant in the previous time frame, which spanned the first half of 2019.

Ruthie’s Law gives Erie County the power to impose a $2,000 fine on nursing homes which don’t comply. Republicans in the legislature have previously contended that the law wasn’t enforced enough, and continued to hold that line on Tuesday.

This is shameful. Nearly three years ago, the Legislature passed this law unanimously to protect senior citizens in nursing homes after a horrible incident in which an elderly woman was beaten to death. The Administration claims that they have been using “softball tactics” in an attempt to increase compliance, but they are not levying fines or punishing the facilities that fail to comply. Ruthie’s Law provides for strong enforcement provisions.  Why doesn’t the county executive want to use them?  If we’re passing laws that provide for strong enforcement provisions, we should use them. If this law is going to help protect seniors, the time to start holding non-complaint nursing homes accountable is now. Any lack of enforcement by the county administration is unacceptable.”

Minority Leader Joe Lorigo, R-C-I, West Seneca

Erie County Senior Services Commissioner says:

Our latest data has 18 of the 35 nursing homes in Erie County being in compliance with ‘Ruthie’s Law,’ pushing us over the 50 percent mark as we continue with our efforts to protect senior citizens in nursing homes. We are making progress and will be revisiting the next steps for enforcement in the coming days with the County Attorney’s Office. We encourage people to visit the county website for updates as more compliance reports are received from area nursing homes.”

Erie County Senior Services Commissioner David J. Shenk

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