News reporters across the city have spent the past several months digging into the details of the Rivington House scandal. But one angle that’s been missing in all of the coverage is the human perspective on the closure of the Lower East Side nursing home.
Today, WNYC profiles a former resident of the facility, who was discharged from Rivington House as the former property owner, the Allure Group, prepared to sell the building for a huge profit to luxury condo developers.
WNYC’s Cindy Rodriguez has been taking a look at what transpired at the LES home, as well as CABS Nursing Home in Bed Stuy, another facility controlled by the Allure Group. Here’s the gist of her story:
Nursing home operators are supposed to give the state Department of Health 90 days notice and submit a detailed plan on how patients will be transferred. The plan includes a roster of patients, a process for relocating them and notification to families of possible alternatives. The agency has to approve the plan before anyone gets moved out. But, according to a three-month investigation by WNYC, that didn’t happen at CABS — or a second location owned by the Allure Group in Manhattan that was the subject of multiple investigations after the owner sold it to luxury housing developers.
WNYC founded a man named Sal Siggia who stayed at Rivington House last fall. He’s had AIDS for 25 years and was receiving radiation treatments for throat cancer. Siggia was at the facility to recover from a bout of pneumonia, but eventually felt stronger and wanted to go home to his 5th floor East Village walk-up. Once back home, he struggled to climb the stairs, almost crawling to his apartment at times. But Siggia felt he had little choice. Rodriguez reported:
Two former employees who spoke to WNYC on the condition that they remain anonymous said Siggia was discharged prematurely and could’ve been given more time to get stronger. Ultimately, Siggia said Visiting Nurse Services deemed his apartment unsafe because of the stairs, and also because his bathtub was in the kitchen and his bed was elevated off the floor. Today, he lives in an elevator building and has nurses and therapists to care for him at home. It took him nine months to put everything in place. Since leaving Rivington House, Siggia has suffered five more bouts of pneumonia, been hospitalized and lost 10 pounds.
Rivington House was sold after the city agreed to lift deed restrictions requiring the property to be operated as a not-for-profit health care facility. The mayor contends his administration was deceived by the Allure Group about its real intentions, an allegation the firm’s partners deny.
You can listen to the full WNYC report below or read a text version of the story here.