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Erie County "Safer Seniors" website goes online

Erie County Senior Services

A new web page has been put online by the Erie County Senior Services Department that offers ratings of nursing homes within the county. If the County Executive has his way, Safer Senior Homes will be just one of several measures enacted to further protect residents of local senior homes.

The homes ranked on the website are Medicare- and Medicaid-certified. The grades are determined by Medicare.

"They look at cleanliness, they look at staffing levels, they look at complaints that have been registered," said Erie County Senior Services Commissioner Timothy Hogues. "They look at the facility's history of responding to citations or issues that have been brought up."

The Safer Senior Homes website was formed following an executive order by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, and comes in response to an incident in a Buffalo senior home last year, in which an elderly resident, Ruth Murray, suffered fatal injuries in a violent confrontation with another resident.

Under the proposed "Ruthie's Law," senior homes would be required to notify families within one hour of a relative's transport to the hospital. Poloncarz also supports a requirement that nursing homes disclose their ranking with the State Department of Health during an application process.

Hogues says families making the decision whether to admit a loved one into a senior home should carefully research each center, including tours of the facilities and observations of how other residents appear to be treated. He also urges families to continue paying close attention if and when their loved one is admitted.

"If there are issues of concern, document it," he said. "As you make the facility aware, if they are not corrected, you create that paper trail so you can show it. You can also contact our office to be advocates for you."

Hogues added that senior homes may not necessarily be the best option. He encourages families to contact New York Connects to learn more about options for long-term care. 

A new web page has been put online by the Erie County Senior Services Department that offers ratings of nursing homes within the county.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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