BRONX, N.Y. - Because of their age and underlying health, residents of nursing homes and adult care homes are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, which can spread though these facilities with alarming speed.
Yet, there is widespread concern that the state is undercounting the number of these vulnerable New Yorkers who are dying in the pandemic.
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“We’re dealing with supplies, not having enough supplies to protect ourselves,” said one health care worker.
“Today, there was no gloves, no mask, no gowns,” said another.
“It’s a nightmare,” said a third.
All of them work at Bronxwood Assisted Living, an adult care facility on East Gun Hill Road in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx.
They are among a half-dozen current employees of Bronxwood who tell NY1 they know of more than a dozen residents who have died from COVID-19. All the workers asked to hide their identities because they said they’re scared of getting fired.
“It’s very sad,” said one them. “I’ve never seen so many residents die at one time.”
Yet, the 320 bed facility is not on the state’s list of nursing homes and adult care facilities reporting more than four deaths.
Bronxwood would not respond to NY1’s request asking how many residents have died in the last six weeks but in a statement told NY1:
“Bronxwood has complied with all NYSDOH protocols, including the specific protocols relating to PPE, quarantining, and daily reporting to the NYSDOH.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo this week issued strict guidelines saying all staff of nursing homes and adult care facilities must have appropriate protective gear and residents who test positive for COVID-19 must be isolated or transferred to another facility.
He announced Thursday the State Department of Health is teaming up with the State Attorney General’s Office to investigate the more than 1,100 nursing homes and adult care facilities in the state to make sure they are following the rules.
“If they cannot care for the person in the facility,” said Governor Cuomo. "Then they have to transfer the person to another facility.”
COVID-19 is believed to have caused at least 3,500 deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities across New York. That’s now more than one in five of all state deaths from the disease.
Workers at Bronxwood allege that residents are walking around without masks or other facial coverings.
“They have no masks no masked or gloves and they’re all about the building,” claimed one of them.
It’s a charge the facility denies.
Workers say they hope state investigators are able to make their lives and the lives of patients safer.
Facilities could be fined $10,000 per violation or potentially lose their operating license.