According to data released by the Albany County Health Department, there are 228 residents of eight nursing homes who have tested positive with COVID-19 and 84 employees.
Albany County operates Shaker Place, where there are 48 residents who have tested positive for the virus and 24 employees said County Executive Dan McCoy during his daily briefing on Monday, May 4. Five residents have died of the virus while two residents and two employees who tested positive have recovered.
Of the private nursing homes in Albany County, Hudson Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center saw a sharp spike in the past week from 15 to 71 residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10 employees.
Our Lady of Mercy in Guilderland, which is operated by St. Peter’s Health Partners, had 47 patients and 16 employees who tested positive as of Sunday, May 3. The Teresian House, which is operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, had 29 residents and 23 employees who tested positive. The Grand, in Altamont, which is operated by The Grand Healthcare System based in Whitestone, has 27 residents and eight employees who tested positive.
The private nursing homes are regulated by the state Department of Health, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated it is the nursing home’s responsibility to maintain care of the patients in accordance with those regulations.
McCoy said the residents in the county-run nursing home who did test positive are isolated in a separate wing of Shaker Place, staff are required to be screened upon entry and the residents are being tested for COVID-19. Since March 12, like nursing homes across the state, visitors were no longer allowed to enter Shaker Place.
Cuomo said if the private facilities cannot take care of the patients in accordance with state’s regulations they should transfer the resident, or reach out to the state to help the find other accommodations for the resident.
Cuomo and his administration have come under fire for a March 25 directive mandating nursing homes take COVID-positive patients who are healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital as a way to free up beds for those in need of critical care in the hard hit areas of New York City and Long Island.
Three days later, the state mandated employees who tested positive for the virus but have not had a fever for 72 hours and who isolated for seven days to return to work provided they wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and take other precautions.
“This crisis overwhelmed the nursing homes. You had a virus that preys on the vulnerable people and there is a concentration of vulnerable people in a nursing home. But, the regulations still apply, even though you are in the middle of a global pandemic,” Cuomo said. “That rules do not change. If you can’t provide care to that patient because of this pandemic If you can’t provide care you are not supposed to be keeping that person in the facility, period.”
By Executive Order, Cuomo issued guidelines for all nursing homes that require staff wear PPE, isolate COVID patients, notify residents and their family within 24 hours of a COVID case within the facility or if there is a fatality related to COVID.
Nursing home not in compliance could be fined up to $10,000 per violation or lose their license.