Articles Posted in Neglect

Some New York nursing homes’ internal coronavirus death counts far exceed the official state figures, according to a new report by the New York Post. Staff members at several nursing homes told the paper that a widespread lack of coronavirus testing has resulted in institutions’ inability to attribute deaths to the virus with certainty, leading to confusion about the true number of coronavirus deaths. One nursing home resident advocate suggested that some facilities may have “taken advantage” of the confusion to be less than transparent about fatalities.

The Post report cites a few nursing homes in which internal documents reflect a higher death count than figures released by the state. Cypress Garden Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Flushing, Queens sustained 76 deaths between March 1 and May 2, whereas the state described seven deaths. Seagate Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Coney Island suffered 74 deaths through May 1, whereas the state described 25. And Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury suffered 115 deaths through May 8, whereas the state described 23.

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Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale received 38 citations for violations of public health code between 2016 and 2020, according to New York State Department of Health records accessed on May 11, 2020. The Riverdale nursing home’s citations resulted from a total of five surveys by state inspectors. The deficiencies they describe include the following:

1. The nursing home did not employ adequate infection control practices. Section 483.80 of the Federal Code requires nursing homes to establish and maintain an infection prevention and control program designed to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases and infections. An August 2019 citation found that Hebrew Home did not ensure its infection control practices were properly maintained. An inspector specifically observed two residents who receive oxygen through nasal cannula with their oxygen tubing lying on the floor, in contravention of policies and procedures. The citation goes on to state that this inspector also observed residents’ rooms in which various equipment—oxygen cannulas, nebulizers, and more—were “stored without being covered,” as well as a nurse who did not conduct proper hand hygiene while caring for a resident’s room. The citation states that these deficiencies had “potential to cause more than minimal harm.”

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Staffers at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, New York allege that the nursing home has covered up almost a hundred COVID-19-related deaths, according to a May 9, 2020 report in the New York Post.

Whistleblowers say that whereas the nursing home has officially reported 25 resident deaths from confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in March and April, the true number is 119. Both numbers exceed the 18 deaths recorded by the New York State Department of Health as of May 8, according to the Post, which notes that the state “does not include nursing-home residents who die in hospitals in its official count.”

The Post report goes on to state that Hebrew Home employees were also “ravaged” by the virus, with documents reflecting at least 71 staffers suffering from confirmed cases of the coronavirus. 35 people died at Hebrew Home in March, according to the Post, and 84 in April, with eleven deaths occurring over one two-day period. Sources told the Post, “There were so many bodies that an empty building on campus, the Catholic church’s former Cardinal Spellman Retreat House, was turned into a temporary morgue.”

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New York State Veterans’ Home in St. Albans, in Queens, has violated Health Department coronavirus protocols, according to a May 5, 2020 report by THE CITY.  Facility employees told the publication that the nursing home was failing to separate roommates in cases where one had a suspected case of COVID-19; and that the nursing home was not isolating infected residents in their own section of the facility, with their own separate team of care workers.

Employees also described shortages of personal protective equipment, telling THE CITY that N95 masks were “handed out just once in late March and expected to last for weeks,” with the supplies restocked only a few weeks ago.

They also alleged that the facility was under-reporting resident deaths from COVID-19. The actual number, they said, was “at least twice or even three times the official tally of 19” by May 1, 2020, that the facility reported to the Department of Health. THE CITY notes that the facility is operated by the Department of Health, suggesting that the Department was “essentially” under-reporting the death count “to itself.”

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Staffers at St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry, New York allege that the facility has exhibited negligence in its response to the coronavirus, according to news reports. Employees describe a shortage of personal protective equipment provided by the facility administration, with some “wearing garbage bags out of desperation.” One employee told Westchester’s News 12, “I’m afraid for my life, my coworkers are afraid for their lives, I’m afraid to bring this home to my family… I don’t know what to do.” Workers who spoke with News 12 did so on condition of anonymity, fearing that the facility would retaliate.

The April 17 report by News 12 goes on to state that the nursing home’s union sent it images of staffers using garbage bags as protective gowns, as well as an image of a notice posted by the administration that sad: “”There are no blue or yellow gowns at the moment, please don’t ask, the alternative PPE for now are hospital gowns combined with a garbage bag.” An administrator disputed the image’s veracity to News 12 and asserted that the facility had resolved its supply issues; workers said the nursing home was “covering up” the extent of the issues it was facing.

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An April 16, 2020 report by the New York Times raised questions about whether Sapphire Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Queens, New York was accurately the number of residents who died during the coronavirus outbreak. Although the facility’s administration informed Queens state representative Ronald Kim that a total of 29 residents died, according to the report, Kim said “the numbers given by the home… did not match what he was hearing from workers there.”

The Times report stated additionally that two workers at 227-bed nursing home said “the actual death toll was considerably higher” than the 29 figure, and may have reached as high as 60 residents. One unnamed staffer at the facility told the Times, “You come to your shift and this person’s gone, this person’s gone…We were losing five or six residents a week, then four or five a day. Last week on my shift it was about eight of them passed away.” Information about resident deaths was reportedly not shared with residents’ families. One resident’s son told the newspaper that over the course of regular video chats with his mother—arranged after the facility suspended family visits—he became concerned about her development of a fever, cough, and loss of appetite. He was reportedly told by a nurse that she had pneumonia; when he asked if it was COVID-19, the nurse said the facility did not know, because patients were not able to get tests. The report continues:

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A new report by the Long Term Community Care Coalition asks the question: “Can animals in a zoo or kennel expect better treatment and conditions than that which many human nursing home residents actually receive?” Noting that its goal is not to trivialize the experiences of nursing home residents or animals, the report seeks to demonstrate how nursing homes are subject to systemic accountability failures, resulting in rampant abuse and neglect that “not only fall below the federal nursing home standards of care, but also below accepted standards for the humane treatment of animals.”

The report compares conditions in eleven key areas of interest: freedom from abuse and neglect; general care and treatment; sufficient staffing with appropriate skills and competencies; nutrition and hydration; safe food handling; medical supervision; simulating and safe environment; freedom from restraints; treatment of injuries; appropriate medications; and infection control and prevention. Below is what the LTCCC found in each of those categories.

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A report by the State of New York found that New Franklin Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Flushing, Queens, was the home of about one-fifth of the 200 COVID-19-related deaths in Queens. As of April 17, 2020, that nursing home had suffered 44 deaths related to the disease, according to the Queens Daily Eagle.

The total number of COVID-19-related deaths in New York nursing homes and long-term care facilities was 3,505 as of mid-April, according to the Wall Street Journal. An April 22 report by the New York Post describe the coronavirus’s impact on New York nursing homes as “hellish.” Ronald Kim, a state assemblyman representing Queens, told the Post that death tallies in nursing homes were undercounted, and that the conditions in nursing homes are “scandalous.” Kim and another assemblyman are reportedly considering convening hearings about possible negligence in nursing home facilities that led to such a deadly impact by the coronavirus.

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Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn, New York suffered one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in New York, according to recent news reports. An April 20, 2020 article by the Associated Press states that the facility listed 55 deaths by that date, “among the most of any such facility in the country.” The AP report states further that of 8,003 nursing home deaths it counted across the United States, one-third took place in New York.

In an interview with the AP, Cobble Hill Health Center’s Chief Executive Officer, Danny Tuchman, said that “he believes many other homes have more deaths than Cobble Hill but his has been singled out for its honesty.” He noted that a state survey of nursing home deaths did not require nursing homes to comply, and that he included “possible” COVID-19 fatalities in his response, emphasizing that Cobble Hill Health Center did not have testing kits and as such could not test any of its residents for the coronavirus. Tuchman told the AP that he did not know how the coronavirus entered the facility, acknowledging that it may have been carried by a paramedic or other staffer who was not symptomatic.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the state’s Department of Health would partner with its Attorney General, Letitia James, to probe nursing home facilities in the state that violate executive orders requiring them to release data about COVID-19 test results and fatalities to the families of their residents.

According to a press release, the governor also ordered nursing homes “to immediately report to DOH the actions they have taken to comply with all DOH and CDC laws, regulations, directives and guidance.” The governor warned that the DOH would perform inspections of facilities noncompliant with these orders, including those that concern “separation and isolation policies, staffing policies and inadequate personal protective equipment.” Facilities found to be in noncompliance will be ordered to submit plans of correction, and may be subject to fines of $10,000 per violation or the revocation of their operating licenses.

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