Ruthie's Law

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to many court proceedings, including Erie County and nursing homes’ legal feud over Ruthie’s Law.

 

Erie County

Erie County announced last month it will finally begin fining nursing homes for not complying with Ruthie's Law after months of scrutiny over a lack of enforcement. That caused local nursing homes to file a lawsuit, arguing Ruthie’s Law conflicts with state law and is therefore illegal. WBFO explored what happens when a local law potentially conflicts with state law.

 


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The Erie County administration announced last week it will finally begin fining nursing homes for not complying with Ruthie’s Law. Now nursing homes are fighting back.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The head of Erie County’s Department of Senior Services says he will fine nursing homes that don’t comply with Ruthie’s Law by the end of the month, seemingly ending months of criticism and scrutiny over a lack of fines.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

WBFO reported in October that most Erie County nursing homes aren’t complying with Ruthie’s Law, yet none have been fined by the county’s Department of Senior Services. Last week, Senior Services officials invited WBFO to come along as they conducted unannounced visits on three of the noncompliant nursing homes. But some feel the county still isn’t doing enough to enforce the law. 

 

WBFO file photo

Roughly half of Erie County nursing homes are still not complying with Ruthie’s Law.

 

The county’s Department of Senior Services released the newest compliance data Tuesday, showing that only 18 of the county’s 35 nursing homes compiled with the law during the most recent reporting period.

 


 

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

It’s been more than two years since Erie County passed Ruthie’s Law, yet none of the nursing homes that have failed to comply during that time have been penalized.

 

On Thursday, the Erie County Legislature finally got to directly ask the county’s Department of Senior Services why that is.

 


WBFO file photo

Republicans in the Erie County Legislature want answers about Ruthie’s Law.

The Republican minority caucus sent a letter to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Tuesday, demanding he explain why nursing homes aren’t following the law and what his administration is doing to enforce it.

 

Erie County

Ruthie’s Law was meant to hold nursing homes more accountable. Proposed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and passed by the county Legislature just a few months later in July 2017, it mandates facilities report abuse-related incidents to the county twice a year, and submit proof they’re disclosing their ratings to prospective clients.

 

Now, more than two years after it was signed into law, it’s difficult to say what, if any, impact it’s had.


A local law designed to better protect nursing home residents passed unanimously in the Erie County Legislature on Thursday.

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It was a small, but emotional audience that turned out Tuesday evening for a public hearing on Ruthie's Law, the proposed Erie County regulation of nursing homes prompted by the beating death of Ruth Murray by another patient in a Buffalo nursing home.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Erie County legislators are lining up in support of a proposed law intended to protect senior citizens living in assisted care homes. The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee discussed the proposal, known as "Ruthie's Law."


WBFO's Mike Desmond

Erie County Executive Poloncarz says the county is in pretty good shape, although potential federal cuts could hit hard at a variety of local programs. His State of the County speech in the Burchfield Penney Art Center was aggressive.

Poloncarz proposes nursing home protections

Mar 25, 2017
WBFO News File Photo

A local law to better protect seniors in nursing homes is being proposed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.