© 2022 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Oswego mayor, nursing home at odds over 'broken' AC units


Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow's administration is once again asking New York state to take action against a nursing home in the city.

On Tuesday, Barlow said he received an email from a health care worker at the Pontiac Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center complaining about "horrible" heat conditions at the facility. In response, he sent employees from the city's code enforcement department and the Oswego Police Department to inspect. According to Barlow, the city officials found 13 rooms at Pontiac where the temperature exceeded 80 degrees. Barlow said if conditions don't improve he may move to relocate Pontiac's residents.

"They demonstrate time and time again they can’t properly manage the facility, this is the latest example and I hope the State Department of Health pays attention here and adds it to the file," Barlow said. 

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. Barlow is actively attempting to add to that file through his own city investigation that has invited current and former employees and residents of Pontiac to report any violations they've witnessed. It's an attempt to shut down Pontiac or prompt its owner to make drastic changes.

"This facility has no business caring for anybody, let alone senior citizens," Barlow said. 

Pontiac attorney Langston McFadden denies Barlow's claims and said New York state certified as of Wednesday morning that the facility was compliant with room temperatures.

"Each room has its own air conditioning unit and no room has any broken A.C. units," McFadden said. "In fact, not only are those units working but some residents -as is their right- have requested their units not to be on."

McFadden said when the current owner of Pontiac bought the building, it was without a central air system. There is an effort underway to install one now, which had earlier been delayed because of concerns related to COVID-19.

As for Pontiac's past state violations, McFadden said the facility's owners are already working on the issue and that Barlow is a barrier to that effort.

"Mayor Barlow has chosen to take a political tactic of attacking this facility at every chance he can and ignoring the fact that the home is working with the Department of Health and the state to correct any problems that there were in the past and assure there are no future problems," McFadden said. 

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.