Chalk up Columbia County Public Health Director Jack Mabb as a witness who tells it like it is when a Republican-led committee of state lawmakers interviewed panelists for several hours.
Mabb gave details about numerous COVID-19 outbreaks in Columbia County nursing homes, which culminated in 32 deaths. Many more people called the Department of Health to complain about how their residents were treated.
In human terms, the outbreaks were shocking.
Twelve residents died from COVID-19 at the Pine Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Philmont, where 15 staff and 52 residents tested positive.
The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell in Valatie had the dubious distinction of recording one of the state’s largest coronavirus outbreaks in adult-care facilities, with 20 deaths and 142 residents and 30 staff who became infected with COVID-19. Sixteen of the 20 residents who died had DNR/DNI, or active Do Not Resuscitate orders.
“The Grand dumped patients in [Columbia Memorial Health] when the governor changed the [March 25] order — people who were basically in their last stages of life who should have been given comfort care,” Mabb said.
Mabb recounted a case in which The Grand transported a woman who was dying from COVID-19 to the hospital.
“She was dead within the hour,” Mabb testified. “I questioned The Grand corporate office on a call why they would do something like that. At the time, they said ‘I didn’t understand DNR/DNI.’ I feel at this point in time, they were dumping patients to get them out of the facility.”
With little useful information coming out of the hearings and frustration over state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker’s foot-dragging at producing data on the fatalities, which could shed light on the reason the state’s official death toll does not count nursing home residents who die in hospitals, Mabb pulled no punches with his testimony Monday.