Two years ago, Dariana Vargas worked at Creekview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Gates.
She lasted only a month.
“It was just horrible,” Vargas said. “I decided that I'm not working in nursing homes again, because I'm not going to be a part of that culture that they have over there.”
According to New York state’s Department of Health, from 2017 through 2021, Creekview received 198 complaints. It also received 120 citations -- five times the statewide average.
The most severe of the complaints were associated with the nursing home’s lack of infection prevention and control. In June 2019, Creekview acquired over $50,000 in fines.
The facility's history of serious quality issues landed it on the 2021 Special Focus Facility Program list. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, facilities with high deficiencies and citations over the course of three years are placed on the list and then subjected to increased oversight and frequent inspections.
Vargas, who was among those who filed complaints against Creekview, said staffing was a major issue while she worked there. She described an evening where she was left to care for an entire patient wing by herself.
“It was just me and I had both sides of the floor, that’s almost like 50 patients, in one night. … It’s overwhelming,” Vargas said.
She said patients would often complain about being left unclean and neglected.
“They're sitting under feces or their urine for like four or five hours waiting for somebody to come help them get clean,” Vargas said. “Or they've been in the chair for too long when they're trying to get to the bed.”
To get off the SFF list, the facility must now meet improvement goals. If it doesn't, it risks being shut down.
The Centers Health Care Group took ownership of Creekview in February and is now working to meet those goals.
Jeffrey Jacomowitz, director of corporate communications for The Centers, said the company has a history of turning facilities around -- and Creekview has been on their radar for years.
“It’s no secret that Creekview has gone through a lot of hardship,” Jacomowitz said. “Centers stepped in and said, 'Look, this place has families that need their loved ones to be happy, and they have to be happy; this is what we have to do.' ”
Jacomowitz said most of the complaints stemmed from poor staffing and leadership, and The Centers has brought in new management to re-educate the entire staff on infection control and how to work with families and residents.
“It's a full facility-wide education,” Jacomowitz said “They don't pick out three people and do that. They do educate across the board.”
Jacomowitz said management also has hired a concierge staff to open new lines of communication between staff and families.
He said The Center’s overall goal is to set a new foundation that will help the facility respond to the previous complaints, and attain better scores by the end of the year.
“So we should start seeing better scores by the end of this year and early next year, hopefully, even sooner than that,” Jacomowitz said.