Hornell Gardens Nursing Home

Hornell Gardens Nursing Home – CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Colleen Colle is a registered nurse, or RN. She is a licensed practical nurse or LPN.

AVON — Two state lawmakers representing the town of Avon have joined a growing list of officials asking authorities to investigate an Avon nursing home where an outbreak of COVID-19 has infected 13 residents, killed three and infected at least three staff members. member.

Hornell Gardens Nursing Home

In a joint letter dated April 28 to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and Attorney General Leticia James, Rep. Marjorie Byrnes, R-Caledonia, and Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, called for an immediate investigation into the case. device.

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Their letter follows similar calls from Livingston County Administrator Ian Coile and Public Health Director Jennifer Rodriguez earlier this month for state authorities to investigate the facility.

In their letter, Byrnes and Gallivan cited Avon Nursing Home’s decision to reject an offer to conduct mass testing of residents and staff, along with a gag order that threatened staff with firing if they spoke to anyone about conditions at the facility.

This management decision “places health care workers and many residents at unnecessary risk,” the letter said.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said the lawmaker’s letter was received Thursday and its contents are being reviewed.

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A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health responded to inquiries by the District News on Thursday but had no information to offer at press time.

Hurlbut Care Communities did not make CEO Robert W. Hurlbut or Avon Nursing Home Administrator James Donoffrey available for interviews.

The company provided a copy of the response letter from Hurlbut sent to Byrnes and Gallivan.

In the letter, Hurlbut said that “five of our 13 facilities have confirmed COVID-19 and suspected COVID-19 deaths. He said the company only reports confirmed COVID-19 deaths that occur at its facilities, not reports suspected COVID-19 deaths at his facilities or deaths that occur in hospitals, he said research requests have been approved for homes for the elderly. the end of March “is not cumulative, meaning reporting only applies to new deaths of confirmed positive cases from our facilities, and each day starts over.”

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The letter also noted that many other health care facilities and organizations across the county need help and support in the form of more PPE, more testing resources and support staff.

“The continued harassment of our medical staff by outside forces is heartbreaking,” he wrote. “They deserve our respect and thanks, not name-calling from those who don’t see all their tireless efforts to protect our seniors.” Instead of placing the blame on facilities whose health care heroes are at risk every day…I urge our elected officials to begin reviewing the erroneous mandates and reporting directives of state and governor’s offices that put our facilities and residents at risk.”

As County News previously reported, Donofrio rejected an April 20 offer from the Livingston County Health Department to facilitate mass testing of residents and staff at the facility.

In his written declination, Donofrio said, “I have discussed this matter with our corporate office and it has been determined that we are not interested at this time. We really appreciate you contacting us,” said Coile. Donofrio did not give a reason for turning down the offer, Coile said.

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Rodriguez said Thursday that the nursing home also declined a verbal offer to test residents and staff in early April after a second person who tested positive for COVID-19, a woman in her 80s, was identified. The positive test of this resident was announced by the district on April 3. He died on April 6.

The company finally began testing residents on April 24. Since then, four more residents have tested positive for the virus.

The county health department also approached the nursing home with an offer to test staff shortly after a 10th resident, a woman in her 80s, tested positive for the virus, Rodriguez said, but was again declined. The district announced the resident’s positive test on April 24.

Rodriguez said the company contacted him Wednesday afternoon — after Byrnes and Gallivan issued their letter — and requested 25 test kits. Given his previous refusal to take the test, Rodriguez said he was “surprised” to get the call.

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“About an hour after the request, we sent 25 smears. “They haven’t confirmed when they will start testing, but they said there are plans to start testing their employees,” Rodriguez said. “I called today and didn’t get an answer as to whether or not they actually started it, but they said that’s their plan going forward.”

Robert Hurlbut said in a statement Thursday that his company offers testing to employees who show symptoms and those who request testing.

“In addition, we provide information to employees who may request an off-site test at a location other than Hurlbut,” he said. “…Employees who voluntarily tell us their personal positive test results for COVID-19 will remain in home isolation for 14 days and will not return to work until they are temperature-free for three days, according to the new requirements of the Ministry of Health. “

One of the reasons Rodriguez wants the staff at the Avon nursing home to be tested more is because more is known about how the virus spreads — especially in nursing homes.

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“We know … the real route of transmission is health workers because they go home,” he explained. “Residents live there, but if you’re a paramedic, you come home at night, you can go to the grocery store.” There are some areas where you’re more vulnerable, so there’s a greater chance of them taking him to a nursing home.’

While no other Avon nursing home workers are known to have tested positive for the virus, aside from the three confirmed by Coile earlier this month, Rodriguez said his office has identified “contacts” of workers who have tested positive for the virus.

“We saw a connection between the positive cases in Livingston County and the Avon nurses,” said Rodriguez, who declined to comment further, citing privacy concerns. “…related. We made a connection.”

“I think if an offer comes … and you don’t do it, shame on you,” he said. “That’s not right.”

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Any delay is unacceptable, Byrnes said, especially given how much time the company wasted rejecting a test offer from the county for most of April, a rejection Byrnes said he can’t think of as a legitimate reason.

“One of the things I’ve heard — I can’t prove it — is that they’re worried that if they do the testing, too many of their employees will come out positive and then they won’t be able to continue. their way,” he said. “I’m not sure what Mr. Hurlbut thinks about that.

For this reason, Byrnes and Gallivan wrote in their letter, the company appears to be intentionally delaying employee testing at a time when the number of residents testing positive for COVID-19 is increasing.

“Hurlbut’s lack of cooperation during this health crisis and order to swear in employees shows a complete lack of concern for the health and well-being of everyone at this facility,” they wrote. “Hurlbut’s behavior puts our entire community at risk.”

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Byrnes’ knowledge of the events at the Avon nursing home was derived in part from interviews with constituents whose family members were residents of the home and constituents who worked at the facility.

“Right now some people are trying to figure out how to get their mother out,” he said. “They are worried.

While speaking with nursing home staff, Byrnes learned that they were threatened with firing if they spoke out about conditions at the facility.

The alleged order, as characterized by Byrnes and Gallivan in their letter, is consistent with the description of Colleen Cole, a former LPN at Hornell Gardens, another Hurlbut-owned nursing home in Steuben County. Cole said he was fired after he refused to share personal protective equipment with other employees at Hornell. Hurlbut disputed this characterization, saying Cole resigned voluntarily.

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On Thursday, Cole said he left for the night shift at the nursing home around 7:30 p.m. March 29. Shortly after arrival, staff were informed that the resident had tested positive for COVID-19. At that point, Cole said, an RN supervisor named Melissa Deming relayed a message from Jerry Ritter, Hornell Gardens’ director of nursing.

“He said, ‘Jerry Ritter said that if anyone discusses anything related to COVID-19 and this facility outside of these walls, on Facebook or otherwise, they will be terminated immediately,'” Cole recalled. Alone in a nursing home. on unit 1. There might be an aide or two but I was told to move them.

Hornell Gardens is one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak in Steuben County. Dozens of residents and staff contracted the virus and some died.

Hurlbut also stood up to the test at Hornell Gardens in the early days

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