NEWFANE —Newfane Rehab and Health Care Center on Wednesday denied a TV news report asserting a rape occurred at the facility in May.
WKBW-TV released a report Tuesday saying it had received a tip indicating a patient at Newfane Rehab raped another patient at the facility.
"The report of alleged rape at Newfane Rehab yesterday by a local news station is false. This type of sensationalism has no positive effect on the residents, family or staff of our facility," Administrator Craig Shaffer wrote in a prepared statement sent to the Union-Sun & Journal. "As mandated by the New York State Department of Health, facility leadership has conducted a thorough investigation and found no evidence to support this allegation. The facility is working closely with the New York State Department of Health, who has already been onsite to review the allegation. The facility has also provided requested documentation for their review."
Shaffer concluded by saying that Newfane Rehab "strives to provide the highest level of care and safety for all residents."
The state health department confirmed in an emailed statement that it is investigating the claim.
The department “takes these disturbing allegations with the utmost seriousness," spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said in the statement. "Upon learning of this incident, we immediately opened an investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation we cannot comment further."
Neither the Niagara County Sheriff's Office nor New York State Police is investigating the claim, spokesmen for those agencies said Wednesday.
"The New York State Police does not have an ongoing investigation or an arrest from that incident," public information officer James O'Callaghan said.
The sheriff's office has not fielded any reports or claims about a rape at the nursing facility, Sheriff James Voutour said.
Hammond, the health department spokesman, pointed to federal regulations in place to protect nursing home residents from abuse and said the regulations mandate staff to work diligently to prevent "such occurrences by monitoring behavior of residents and regularly reviewing internal strategies for the prevention of abuse."
Hammond also noted that under current laws and regulations, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are required to report all incidents of sexual abuse and assault to the Department of Health and law enforcement.