More COVID-19 at Sullivan nursing home

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LIBERTY, NY — Sullivan County officials announced on April 17 that there were 41 new cases of COVID-19 in the Care Center at Sunset Lake. That brings the total to 47 cases.

“This is reflective of the increasing cases in Sullivan County and throughout New York, particularly at nursing care facilities,” said health and family services commissioner Stephanie Brown. “We continue to do everything we can to stop further spread, which is why visitation, admissions and face-to-face medical appointments have all been halted to the care center for the past month.”

“Thirty-three residents and eight staff members at our nursing home tested positive for the virus,” said public health director Nancy McGraw. “The employees have been self-isolating since receiving their results, and the residents have been moved into an isolation ward at the Care Center. Administration and public health continue to monitor the situation closely in collaboration with the NYS Department of Health.”

The total number of deaths in nursing homes or adult care facilities in New York State was 3,425 as of April 18, according to the New York State Department of Health, which is equivalent to about 25 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state.

Nursing homes are being hit hard across the country, with one estimate saying more than 7,300 adults in nursing homes have died from COVID-19, but that number is almost certainly an undercount because not all states are keeping track of those deaths. On April 19, the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued a rule that requires that all nursing homes alert families of patients when there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a facility.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services further required that families and representatives must be told when three or more residents develop respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour period. The nursing homes must also report the mitigation measures being taken to halt the spread of the disease.

Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living (NYSHFA/NYSCAL) issued the following statement on April 20: “Outbreaks of COVID-19 are not the result of inattentiveness or shortcomings in our facilities. The very nature of long-term care is a high-touch environment where social distancing is not an option in providing care. Staff are hands-on helping residents with bathing, dressing, eating and other personal daily needs.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated that ‘nursing homes are the state’s top concern.’ As such, three things are essential for us to stop this virus. Skilled nursing and assisted facilities must 1) be designated as top priorities for staffing assistance, 2) receive sufficient PPE, and 3) all residents and staff must be tested for COVID-19. All three of these are critical to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens and the men and women who provide essential care.”

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