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Sources: Plan to close troubled Emerald South nursing home to be revealed

Buffalo News - 11/12/2018

Nov. 12--A Buffalo nursing home considered one of the most troubled in the state will be closing, three sources familiar with the shutdown plans told The Buffalo News on Friday.

The recently appointed receiver of Emerald South Rehabilitation and Care Center is expected on Monday to reveal plans to close the 122-bed facility and relocate residents and workers, the sources said.

A date for the closing has not yet been determined, but two of the sources said Jeremy B. Strauss, the receiver, plans to transfer as many of Emerald South's residents as possible to the nearby Emerald North nursing home.

"We're trying to make sure that this process is not unsettling or upsetting to the residents and staff," one source said.

A spokesman for Strauss, who owns the Grand Healthcare company in New York City, declined to comment on the plan to close Emerald South, which is at 1175 Delaware.

The state Health Department would have to review and approve plans to close the facility. A Health Department spokesman on Friday would not confirm the planned closure but instead stressed that the department has been communicating with the receiver regarding plans to improve the quality of care.

The Health Department replaced Judy Landa, the licensed operator of Emerald South and its companion facility, Emerald North, with a receiver in late October, months after a resident fell to his death trying to escape through a third-floor window and after the federal government designated Emerald South a "Special Focus Facility," requiring closer scrutiny of it.

As of Friday, there were 63 residents at Emerald South, which has 122 beds, and 26 open beds at Emerald North, which has 95 beds, according to state nursing home census figures. Both homes are located on Delaware Avenue a short distance from each other.

Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Cheektowaga, who supports pending bills in the State Legislature to enact mandatory staffing ratios between residents and workers in nursing homes, expressed concern when asked about the closing.

"If that is the case, first and foremost, I would like to see that the residents are taken care of and placed in a facility that they want to be in and that they have some say in where they go," Wallace said.

Most of the estimated 75 workers at Emerald South, one of the sources said, are expected to be transferred to Emerald North, which has about 100 employees.

Any of the workers who are not placed at Emerald North, Wallace said, "should be provided with assistance in finding suitable employment."

The planned closing comes shortly after the state Health Department imposed a $10,000 fine on Emerald South over the death of William Strasner, 87, who fell from his third-floor window June 4.

Shortly after Strasner's death, the federal government designated Emerald South a "Special Focus Facility" because of unsafe conditions.

In 2016, the state Health Department fined Emerald South $10,000, in part, for a lack of supervision cited in the beating death of Ruth Murray. The 82-year-old woman, a dementia unit resident, had mistakenly wandered into the room of another resident, who attacked her.

Strauss, who operates 14 nursing homes in the state, previously told The News he was in the process of filing an application seeking approval to transfer the operating license of Emerald North to him.

At the time, Strauss said he would be holding off on taking the same action on Emerald South because the state was reviewing that facility. Judy Landa of Long Island holds the operating licenses for both Emerald nursing homes. Strauss said he has paid $3.5 million for Emerald North's building and property at 1205 Delaware and the licenses for both nursing homes. Strauss did not buy Emerald South's building and property from Landa's husband, Benjamin, who owned both properties.

Todd Hobler, vice president of SEIU Local 1199, which represents workers at both homes, declined to comment on plans to close Emerald South.

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(c)2018 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

Visit The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.) at www.buffalonews.com

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