COVID-19 diagnoses spiked at two area nursing homes on Tuesday.
A total of 112 residents of The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell in Valatie tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, Columbia County officials confirmed.
All 216 Barnwell residents were tested for the virus by a team of nurses from the state Department of Health, said Jay Lawrence, director of corporate business development for The Grand Healthcare System.
The Pines at Catskill Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Catskill also had a surge in cases, with 27 new positive diagnoses among residents, Kathleen Roop, administrator of The Pines, wrote in a letter to families Tuesday.
The state health department is conducting a full testing of staff and residents at The Pines, Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said. The facility is awaiting the results of several more tests, Roop added.
The positive residents have been grouped in a separate area of the facility, Roop wrote to family members.
One Barnwell resident died of COVID-19 on Monday at Columbia Memorial Hospital, said Jack Mabb, director of the Columbia County Department of Health. No Barnwell residents have died at the facility, said Lawrence.
The Pines had two confirmed and one presumed death from COVID-19 at the facility as of Monday, according to the state health department.
More than half of all nursing homes statewide are battling COVID-19 outbreaks and nearly 5,000 nursing-home residents have died since the pandemic began, according to the state health department.
Nursing-home residents account for one in four COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to a list of confirmed and presumed cases in nursing homes released by the state health department Monday. But that number may be far higher, as any nursing-home resident who dies in a hospital is counted as a hospital fatality, not a nursing-home fatality.
Elderly populations are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. People over the age of 70 account for more than 64% of COVID-19 deaths statewide, according to demographic data released on the state health department website.
More than 20 Barnwell staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 to date. All staff members will be tested, Mabb said.
Several staff members at The Pines had tested positive for the virus as of late April, but the facility declined to provide updated numbers on Tuesday.
As the coronavirus pandemic intensified in mid-March, Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Philmont became the first nursing home in Columbia County to report an outbreak. Four Pine Haven residents tested positive on March 27 and the virus quickly spread throughout the facility, infecting more than 35 residents and killing 13 as of Wednesday. Ten Pine Haven residents have recovered from the virus, said Geoff Thompson, of Thompson and Bender, the public relations firm representing Pine Haven.
The state health department inspected Pine Haven on April 24, but has not sent personnel to the facility to assist with testing residents or staff, Thompson confirmed.
The Pine Haven inspection came one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced increased oversight of nursing home practices. The governor’s office and the state attorney general’s office have worked jointly to investigate nursing homes that do not comply with state-issued directives on staffing and the use of protective equipment during the pandemic.
Barnwell staff are following all guidelines from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Lawrence, who noted that the facility has adequate amounts of protective gear.
One resident of Greene Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Catskill tested positive for COVID-19. That individual was moved to one of Greene Meadows’ sister facilities, said Linger.
The Eliot at Catskill has no positive cases of the virus, said Colleen Vincent, executive director of The Eliot.
Kimberly Kaplan, director of public health in Greene County, did not respond to repeated calls and emails requesting comment.