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Oswego opens investigation into nursing home to prompt state action


Following years of fines, penalties, and criminal investigations, the City of Oswego is taking action against a nursing home and is enlisting the public's help for the effort.

Sabrina Wilmot said as a former nurse at Pontiac Care and Rehabilitation Center in Oswego, she would not advise families to leave their loved ones there. Wilmot said many staff members there do not provide the proper care. She would often have to clean up after her coworkers who left rooms or bedpans dirty and treat patients for rashes because other nurses left them unattended in their briefs for too long. But the worst of it, Wilmot said, was the mistreatment.

"There was one resident, he was mistreated by one of his family members before he went to the nursing home and every time a CNA [certified nurse's aide] took care of him, he was asking if he was being punished," Wilmot said. "A lot of the CNAs told him that if he doesn't shut up that he will be punished. That bothered me a lot."

New York state records show that over the last four years alone, more than 100 complaints have been filed against Pontiac and the state has issued at least 37 citations against the facility. Additionally, several nurses who have worked there have been criminally charged with harming residents or taking inappropriate photos of them. Most recently, a state report charged Pontiac for failing to prevent a resident who was a known sexual predator from abusing three other residents.

"It's always an issue with the Pontiac," said Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. "They're always in the news for the wrong reasons."

Barlow is now directing the city police department collect confidential public testimony, photos, videos, and other evidence from past and present Pontiac employees, residents, and family members. The plan is to send it to the state in the hope that it will trigger a more robust response.

Barlow said New York recently added Pontiac to its watch list, which could result in more frequent inspections. But he said more needs to be done to prompt immediate corrections.

"Revocation of the nursing license or temporary suspension or the introduction of a third-party operator because the owner has proved time and time again he's incapable of running the facility the way it needs to be run and treating his residents with respect," Barlow said. 

Pontiac did not respond to a request for comment.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.