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.
“No one was prepared for this catastrophe,” he told the Post. “We failed to protect our elderly people at nursing homes.” He attributed this failure to a dearth of personal protective equipment such as masks.
An April 23 editorial by the Queens Chronicle called for “immediate action” to address the “carnage” in nursing homes like the New Franklin Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. “This is a tragedy, and one that could have been foreseen if not better prepared for,” the publication argued. “Nursing homes are notorious for being understaffed. The problem is that they rely on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government to function, and those payments have not kept up with increased costs over the years. That has to change so that the elderly can be well cared for while the nursing homes are still able to make a profit and therefore stay open.”
In terms of short-term measures, the paper called for the governor to employ every available measure to supply nursing homes like the New Franklin Center with personal protective equipment, for state inspectors to ensure nursing homes are adequately staffed, and for federal officials to track and publish COVID-19 case and death rates in nursing homes.
According to its Department of Health profile, The New Franklin Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing has received 26 citations for violations of health and safety codes between 2016 and 2020. A November 2017 citation found that the nursing home did not ensure the maintenance of infection control practices. An inspector specifically observed that staff did not put dry protective dressing in place before commencing a resident’s wound care treatment; that a treatment nurse did not take off her gloves and perform hand hygiene after cleaning a tray table and before “going into” a treatment cart during a resident’s wound care; that the covers on a clean linen cart were “torn and tattered”; and that clean towels were transported in an uncovered rolling cart. The citation states that these deficiencies had the “potential to cause more than minimal harm” to residents in the nursing home.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.