CATSKILL — The Greene County Public Health Department included a breakdown of COVID-19 cases in adult-care facilities for the first time Monday, following requests from the community and lawmakers for the information.
The Pines at Catskill Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation was the first adult-care facility in the county to have a confirmed case on April 10. Data from Public Health show that more than half of the county’s active cases are in adult-care facilities.
Of the county’s 94 active cases, 64 are in adult-care facilities. Primarily, these cases are from The Pines, Legislator Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill, said. Greene Meadows Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had two cases as of April 24.
The Pines has 136 beds, according to the state Department of Health.
In addition to The Pines, Greene County Public Health has tested staff and patients at Home Sweet Home, The Eliot at Catskill and the Greene County Dialysis Center.
There have been two COVID-19 deaths and one presumed COVID death at The Pines, according to the state Department of Health. Greene County has had 14 COVID-19-related deaths in all, mainly elderly individuals or persons with pre-existing health conditions, according to Public Health.
In Columbia County, the first facility where COVID-19 reared its head was Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Philmont.
Pine Haven had 35 cases, according to a Columbia County Department of Health update Friday. Livingston Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had two cases and The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell had 117. The nursing home cases represented more than 75% of the county’s total active cases Friday.
Pine Haven has 120 beds and Barnwell has 236, according to the state Department of Health.
There have been six COVID-19 deaths at Pine Haven and two at Barnwell, as well as four presumed COVID-19 deaths at Pine Haven, according to the state Department of Health. Columbia County has had 22 COVID-19-related deaths in total.
The Columbia County Department of Health had a higher number of nursing-home deaths in its report than those listed by the state, with 10 residents at Pine Haven and seven at Barnwell.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo added additional requirements Sunday to a controversial directive that compels nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals.
The original directive from the state Department of Health, dated March 25, ordered facilities could not deny admission to a patient based on a positive COVID-19 test result, as long as the patient was medically stable.
“There is an urgent need to expand hospital capacity in New York state to be able to meet the demand for patients with COVID-19 requiring acute care,” according to the directive. “No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
The governor will issue an executive order requiring all nursing-home staff to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week, starting this week.
Additionally, hospitals cannot release a COVID-19 patient to a nursing home unless that person tests negative for the virus. Facilities must submit testing plans and compliance certificates to the state Health Department by Friday.
Cuomo’s new executive order does not reverse the state’s March 25 policy, which mandates nursing homes cannot discriminate against residents by not readmitting people who test positive for the coronavirus, officials said Sunday.
“The only avenue of coming to a nursing home is not just the hospital,” SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras said. “It could have been a new patient or from another facility besides another hospital. You can still not discriminate against a nursing-home patient. If you’re in the hospital for another reason, you can’t discharge that patient until they’re negative.”
The March 25 and Sunday’s nursing-home policies co-exist, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said.
The state has 101,518 nursing home residents in more than 600 facilities. More than 360 have reported COVID-19 deaths, or 12% of virus fatalities statewide. New York ranks 34th highest in the nation for virus-related fatalities in nursing homes.
Under state law, New York nursing homes can house people with coronavirus only when the facility can provide the appropriate care. If not, the infected residents are transferred to COVID-19-only facilities throughout the state, which include St. Joseph Post-Acute Center in Erie County, Syracuse’s SUNY Upstate Medical University, Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan, South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island, and Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Medical University and Brooklyn Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare.
Older Americans are more at risk of contracting the virus, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eight out of 10 deaths blamed on COVID-19 reported in the U.S. have been adults 65 or older, according to the CDC.