Nursing homes on Staten Island: A new front line in coronavirus fight

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Because the coronavirus (COVID-19) rages at hospitals on Staten Island and throughout New York Metropolis, nursing properties on the borough have develop into a brand new de-facto entrance line — treating the neighborhood’s most susceptible inhabitants in an effort to mood inflow into the Island’s two hospital programs.

Nonetheless, interviews with 4 nursing dwelling well being care employees — all of who requested anonymity for worry of reprisal — in as many nursing properties reveal that considerations over insufficient private protecting gear (PPE) are making the battle of aiding aged sufferers below unfathomable circumstances a “scary” activity.

“It’s like a med-surg unit,” one nurse stated — “with out the gear.”

Concern for Staten Island’s nursing properties has additionally been expressed by Borough President James Oddo, who beforehand stated: “In a rising quantity, we’re going to have actual points at our nursing properties” — echoing what he was instructed by Dr. Ginny Mantello, the borough’s director of well being and wellness.

To keep away from additional filling up obtainable beds and ICU rooms at Staten Island hospitals, each Oddo and Mantello stated nursing properties play a important position in lessening the burden on the hospital system.

“The least we are able to do is say those that aren’t critically ailing and never in an ICU setting and never on a ventilator must be despatched to the next-step-down stage,” Mantello stated, “which isn’t a triage tent, it’s not a constructing we stood as much as take sufferers, it’s not a dormitory or a lodge — it’s a nursing dwelling.”

To deal with that elevated strain, Oddo stated: “You want provides, masks, and many others., otherwise you’re going to have that virus unfold into the nursing dwelling, which ultimately bleeds again into the hospitals.”


Very like hospitals throughout New York Metropolis, private protecting gear (PPE) for front-line employees in nursing properties has develop into a treasured commodity, although some nursing dwelling well being care employees say not sufficient is being completed to guard them.

In an interview with the New York Times, Scott LaRue, the president of ArchCare, which runs Carmel Richmond Nursing Residence in Dongan Hills, stated there have been round 150 circumstances of the coronavirus and quite a few deaths throughout the 5 nursing properties run by the Archdiocese. “I can’t check, I don’t have PPE,” he stated. “What am I speculated to do?”

Whereas hospitals most notably have been a spotlight of officers when it comes to offering enough PPE, nursing properties haven’t acquired the identical focus.

“Publicity is publicity,” stated one nurse at a talented nursing facility on the borough, evaluating the challenges confronted by nursing dwelling nurses in comparison with these working in a hospital. “Simply because your affected person is extra important and on the vent and mine isn’t doesn’t imply that I’m much less uncovered to COVID than you might be,” she stated.

The nurse, who stated her nursing dwelling has “upward of 50” possible coronavirus circumstances, stated a number of nurses throughout the dwelling have additionally examined constructive — underscoring the necessity for correct PPE, which she stated is extraordinarily restricted. “Not a single employee has N95, not a single particular person,” she stated, “and up till a pair days in the past, we had completely no eye safety” — repeating a sentiment expressed by a number of different nursing dwelling well being care employees interviewed by the Advance/

The nurse stated she shouldn’t be solely involved for her coworkers — a lot of whom are fearful of transferring the virus to their households — but additionally for in any other case wholesome residents. “It’s scary as a result of I really feel like our inhabitants is susceptible, and we simply don’t have something to cope with” the virus, she stated.

One other well being care employee at a special Island nursing dwelling stated whereas she has lately seen PPE develop into barely extra obtainable, she remains to be required to retailer PPE “in a zipper lock in my trunk to make use of for the following day.”

“I simply know we’re working extraordinarily quick employees on account of employees getting ailing,” she stated. “PPE has gotten just a little higher however we’d like extra,” she stated.

Oddo beforehand has stated the hunt for PPE has been removed from easy, but told the Advance/ that a number of nursing properties have acquired extra provides.


Nonetheless, the scenario inside nursing properties seems dire. As of April 5, there have been 3,243 confirmed circumstances of the coronavirus in 278 of New York State’s 613 licensed nursing properties, together with 702 deaths — which accounts for almost one in each 5 coronavirus deaths within the state.

A letter from the city’s Health Department dated March 31 stated that nursing properties ought to put together “for much more dramatic will increase in COVID-19 circumstances within the coming days and weeks.”

“Staffing shall be important to satisfy the rise in demand that your nursing dwelling will expertise,” the letter continues. “When you have got exhausted your conventional staffing channels, akin to registries and businesses, there shall be few choices remaining.”

To satisfy these wants, the NYC Departments of Well being and Emergency Administration created an internet referral program that allows volunteers to fill important staffing wants. The town’s Well being Division didn’t reply to an inquiry requesting the quantity of volunteers which were positioned in Staten Island nursing properties.

Latest steering from the state Well being Division, as beforehand talked about by Oddo and Mantello, ordered sufferers to be returned to nursing properties after changing into stabilized on the hospital; nevertheless, as hospitals develop into extra backed-up, the nurse on the expert nursing facility stated the sufferers are being “launched from the hospital sooner and sooner.”

“As soon as they’re stabilized they arrive proper again,” the nurse stated, including that aged sufferers can quickly decline, even after being stabilized.

Due to the overflow at hospitals and the chance that some sufferers shall be despatched instantly again, or not be prioritized due to their age, she stated, “We principally have to take a seat and suppose, ‘are we going to ship this particular person to the hospital?’,” whereas “normally we ship them straight away in the event that they’re a full code” — referring to the medical terminology for cardiac failure.

“That’s the largest change,” she stated, saying that nurses now should suppose: “Is there some extent in sending this particular person?”

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One nursing assistant at a borough nursing dwelling stated that her and her coworkers would not have N95 masks to cope with sufferers, and one other who works as a dietary help stated her coworkers have solely been supplied with blue surgical masks to cope with sufferers.

Whereas saying “it’s not an issue of coping with folks, that’s what we signed up for,” the nursing assistant stated the dearth of correct PPE “made me really feel like they don’t care about me, they don’t care in regards to the employees.”

For the dietary help, coming into contact with gadgets like meals trays makes her apprehensive she may deliver the virus dwelling together with her, probably infecting her baby and mom, because it has been identified to stay on some surfaces for days.

“I’m involved as a result of my mom has COPD and I’ve a toddler in the home,” she stated, including that her nursing dwelling at the moment has two flooring quarantined on account of the virus, however feels it may simply infect different residents on completely different flooring.

And whereas these quarantined flooring have disposable gear for residents to eat, she stated she noticed six situations on Sunday the place the trays have been despatched again right down to the kitchen, probably exposing a slowly-dwindling employees.

Nursing properties try to take precautionary steps amid the coronavirus disaster, together with having well being care employees be required to have their temperature taken earlier than beginning their shifts; nevertheless, some steps have gotten unrealistic amid rising coronavirus case totals.

With a number of nursing properties making an attempt to undertake isolation measures to maintain contaminated residents secure from otherwise-healthy residents, the heavy inflow of sufferers has precipitated nursing properties to be “on overload,” one nurse stated, making correct isolation “very tough.”

“Sufferers are despatched to hospitals, in the event that they don’t want ventilators they arrive again for isolation,” she stated.


The impact of that isolation can also be a hidden issue within the battle being waged inside nursing properties.

“They don’t have visitation anymore and it’s exhausting for each them and their households,” one nurse stated, referring to the state-mandated order to restrict visitation at the homes. “They’re older, they’re lonely.”

The emotional results of the coronavirus prolong to the households of nursing dwelling residents, separating them from family members within the midst of the uncertainty borne from the virus.

One New Jersey resident, who requested her identify not be printed on account of her household’s connection to the nursing dwelling, stated her aunt labored at a Staten Island nursing dwelling the place her grandmother additionally lived, which frequently gave her household a connection to their matriarch.

Nonetheless, her aunt has lately develop into ailing and was ordered to remain dwelling — forcing the household to solely contact their grandmother through cellphone.

“We’re freaking out as a result of my aunt, when my aunt labored there, she noticed my grandma day by day and now she’s not even capable of see her,” the girl stated. The girl’s grandmother, who has not been examined and is at the moment not sick, “doesn’t perceive the severity” of the virus, she stated.

The household, like many others with family members in nursing properties, can’t feasibly take away their grandmother from the house at the moment. “We might like to take my grandmother out, however I don’t suppose we are able to,” the girl stated. “My grandmother undoubtedly requires 24-hour assist.”

An added-element to that call is the lengthy ready lists usually related to getting a member of the family right into a nursing dwelling. “We waited a very long time to get her in there,” the New Jersey lady stated.

“I’m noticing loads of modifications in our long run sufferers who’re wholesome,” stated one nursing dwelling employee. “They’re unhappy and lonely,” she stated, including that she tries to Skype with the resident’s household when she has time.

“We strive our greatest to be there for them with love and help,” she stated.


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