First and foremost, our healthcare heroes and staff care deeply about our residents and the families that we serve and make every effort to communicate with all those who inquire about the wellbeing of residents in our care. However, only family members who are a resident’s primary contact, power of attorney, or those on the approved contact list created by the primary contact/resident can be given personal health information. This is the law. We rely heavily on the primary contacts to keep their broader family updated, as is their right to do so as they see fit.
I want to be abundantly clear on a topic that has been prevalent in the media as of late. Hurlbut Care Communities has and will continue to comply with NYSDOH reporting mandates. Yes, there have been fatalities from confirmed COVID-19 and presumable COVID-19 at 3 of our 13 facilities. It is possible that this information is not on the NYSDOH fatalities report because of the following:
- We only report confirmed, COVID-positive deaths that happen at our facilities;
- We do not report presumed COVID deaths at our facilities, or any death that occurs at a hospital, per other incoming mandates from the NYSDOH, as COVID-19 positive deaths
- The HERDS survey was enacted for nursing homes in late March 2020 and is non-cumulative, which means the reporting is only for new fatalities of confirmed positive cases from our facility and starts fresh each day;
- We have always reported in compliance with NYSDOH requirements, but deaths reported to NYSDOH prior to the new HERDS survey don’t seem to be reflected in what the State is publishing.
Our hope was the NYSDOH reports would reflect what has been submitted, but we understand that tracking results from several iterations of the survey, as well as capacity to retroactively compile all the data from every nursing home in the state, may be resulting in a delay by the NYSDOH.
I will not communicate fatalities outside our required reporting to NYSDOH and personal calls to primary contacts because it goes against everything I believe in as a care provider. These are human lives, not just numbers. These are real people who do not deserve to be politicized.
Focusing so adamantly on deaths and mortality for the elderly will not help us get closer to a vaccine. Additionally, physical distancing is nearly impossible in the nursing home environment, due to room sharing and the fact that we provide the most intimate level of care, from brushing teeth to bathing and incontinence care. These needs don’t just go away because of a virus, and we will not lower our standards of care because of it.
I want to assure our team that the work they do on the front lines every day matters. It’s my job to have their back and protect them. This constant harassment of our healthcare staff is deplorable. They deserve our respect and gratitude, not finger pointing by those who can’t see all their tireless efforts to protect our elderly.
As many facilities and other healthcare organizations around the county have said, we need help and support in the form of more PPE, more back-up staff resources and we need the State to end the mandate requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals.
Thank you again to our dedicated healthcare heroes for your tireless efforts, and to our residents for staying strong during this difficult time.