GOSHEN – Sapphire Nursing and Rehab at Goshen has created an acceptable improvement plan and made good strides toward correcting the issues for which state Health Department inspectors cited the home in February.

That’s according to a recent DOH letter to the facility and the home’s new corrective action plan, both obtained Thursday by the Times Herald-Record.

“The well-being of nursing home residents is a paramount concern of the state Department of Health,” DOH spokeswoman Jill Montag told the Record on Thursday.

Montag added that the DOH will follow up on any new complaints and check the home over the next 16 months as part of its recertification process.

Sapphire-related holding companies, owned by a group of investors from New York City, closed on their purchase of the former nonprofit Elant Inc. homes in Goshen, Newburgh, Wappingers Falls and Fishkill in September.

A few months later, complaints about the Goshen facility began coming in to the Record, state Assemblyman James Skoufis and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.

The complaints were partly spurred by the for-profit Goshen home's move in December to slash its registered nurse tally 54 percent, according to the Sapphire nurses’ union, though management has disputed the size of the cuts and pledged to hire more staff.

The complaints culminated in the DOH's February order for Sapphire to develop a corrective action plan. 

A DOH investigation found the home failed to:

• properly treat and prevent pressure ulcers, and assess and care for residents with bladder and bowel troubles

• speak with patients in respectful way, while ensuring they don't fear reprisal

• prevent medication errors and keep patients hydrated and properly nourished

• provide sufficient staffing and adequately supervise patients with a physician

• make and get patients to appointments, and guarantee all residents receive treatment and individual care plans

• maintain a safe, clean, comfortable and homelike environment with repairs and cleaning

• prevent infections, including testing water and storing food properly.

Responding to the DOH, Sapphire’s leaders pledged significantly more monitoring and training of staff, better oversight of patients, additional medical team coordination, records reviews and audits of care and cleaning.

Sapphire’s leaders said they've already enhanced food service, directed staff to clean better, created more therapy programs and improved the physical plant, including adding a security system.

In a statement Thursday, Jay Pepper, Sapphire’s compliance director, acknowledged the Goshen home has work to do, while saying it has already made many improvements.

“Sapphire’s administration and its employees are deeply committed to providing a safe and caring environment for the residents of this home,” Pepper said.

Maloney called on regulators Thursday to launch a “full, system-wide investigation” of Sapphire. 

And Skoufis separately released a statement saying he'll continue monitoring Sapphire.

“We’ll be watching that facility like a hawk – as well as the rest of their system – to make sure the older folks in their care are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Maloney said.

Echoing other residents' relatives, Joe Guyt said the Goshen home’s staff had a pattern of neglecting his late mother, Lillian.

He claims staff ignored her calls for help and left her in waste-filled underwear for hours at a time.

Guyt said his mother stayed at the Goshen home for three years, before she recently died of sepsis at 84, following a urinary tract infection.

“Any positive news is absolutely a step forward, but I’m skeptical based on Sapphire’s past,” Guyt said.