Tom Dinki

Reporter

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.

Tom is a Buffalo native and 2016 University at Buffalo graduate, holding a B.A. in English and journalism certificate. While at UB, he served as editor in chief of the university's independent student newspaper, The Spectrum.

After graduating from UB, Tom spent three years as a reporter for the Olean Times Herald, where he covered mostly crime and education throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

His three-part education series, "The state of New York rural schools: Left behind," won a 2018 New York Associated Press first-place Enterprise Reporting Award, second-place Investigative and Watchdog Reporting Award, and first-place Data Visualization Award.

When he’s not eating, sleeping and breathing the news, Tom likes to ride his bike and watch — and more importantly, discuss and debate — movies and television.

You can follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki.

Ways to Connect

Flickr user The Javorac

Polypharmacy in older adults has been increasing, as about four in 10 Americans 65 and older take at least five medications, according to a 2015 study from Harvard University. Now research from the University at Buffalo has discovered that all this overprescribing is leading to more hospitalizations and out-of-pocket costs.


Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

The Erie County Department of the Health has begun notifying the county Legislature about COVID-19 outbreaks in local nursing homes, but it is still not notifying the general public.


City of Detriot/Flickr

With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, health officials are warning of a compounding flu season and urging Americans to get their flu vaccination. So while you may not need another reason to get your shot this year, some new research has found it may also lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. 

 


 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

It’s been a difficult school year for students, with many unable to attend classes in person or play sports due to COVID-19. Another experience many are missing out on is field trips. That’s why a new partnership is trying to help Buffalo and Niagara Falls students visit local educational, art and cultural centers virtually. 

 


 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The Erie County Legislature on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution demanding the county Department of Health be more transparent about COVID-19 outbreaks at local nursing homes. 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Republican Congressman Chris Jacobs, who won a special election for New York’s 27th Congressional District less than five months ago, declared he had won a full term Tuesday night, saying he was confident absentee ballots would not change the outcome of the race.


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Older adults historically turn out to the polls at high rates. That appears to be the case again this year both locally and nationally, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Election Day is less than a week away and millions have already voted via early voting or mail-in ballots, but if you’re still undecided, a new report by personal finance website WalletHub will show you what each candidate will mean for your wallet. 

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

Early voting in New York state starts Saturday and runs through Nov. 1. It’s the second year New Yorkers have the option to vote early, but it’s taken on greater importance this year with a presidential election and COVID-19 pandemic that necessitates social distancing. Here’s what you need to know.


New York state nursing homes were permitted to reopen for visitation in July, and since then, many have limited visits to outdoors, keeping families on lawns and patios while taking advantage of the warm summer and early fall weather. 

 

But now, in mid-October, many question what will happen as the temperature drops.

 


Office of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

New York lawmakers may try to reform the state’s nursing home industry in light of thousands of COVID-19 deaths, and they don’t have to look far to find an example in another state. 

 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Buffalo Public Schools have offered free grab-and-go meals ever since students began remote learning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Now, combining two of the biggest trends in the culinary industry, it’s offering locally sourced meals on a new food truck. 

 

UB Athletics

The University at Buffalo is reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 in its Athletics Department, with more than two dozen student-athletes across three teams affected.

 

WBFO file photo

MT Pockets, the Hertel Avenue bar that was the site of a racially charged confrontation between patrons and protesters earlier this month, was given permission to reopen Monday by the Erie County Department of Health.

 

Jacquie Prenatt

Every September, thousands of people march through downtown Buffalo wearing purple shirts to raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research and care. Like so many other large fundraisers, COVID-19 has made this impossible. 

 

Instead, those impacted by the cognitive disorder will walk in small, socially-distanced groups in their own communities Saturday morning. 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

Blocher Homes assisted living facility will officially become a mixed-income apartment complex, as the Williamsville Planning Board approved the controversial project with the minimum number of votes needed.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A tumultuous week on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo concluded with a peaceful march Friday night in which protesters were at times at odds on whether to focus on economic racism related to a high-profile incident at a bar, or continue the police reform effort started earlier this summer.

 


Left: Courtesy of Ondrea Pate; Right: Courtesy of Victoria D'Angelo

More than 40% of the country’s now more than 180,000 COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes, according to a New York Times database. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki has been covering the impact on local nursing homes throughout the pandemic. In this week's story from “The Toll,” he spoke to family members who lost loved ones in two local long-term care facilities.

 

Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News

A peaceful protest through North Buffalo nearly turned ugly Tuesday when marchers were confronted by Hertel Avenue bar patrons in the vicinity of last week’s altercation involving a man with a knife.


Jeffrey Barnes photography

The Buffalo Police Department charged a Cattaraugus County man with a hate crime Monday for allegedly threatening Black Lives Matter protesters on Hertel Avenue, but he was immediately released and given a ticket to appear in court more than a month from now.

 

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says to blame New York state’s bail reform.  

 


Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Republicans are celebrating a possible U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into the COVID-19 crisis in New York state nursing homes, while others are concerned that the action is politically motivated.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

New York state nursing homes have long been plagued by understaffing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Despite this, the state Department of Health opposes a bill that would mandate minimum staffing level standards in nursing homes. 

Community Action Organization of Western New York

The Community Action Organization of Western New York has a new program to assist low-income seniors in the city of Buffalo, thanks to funding from the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus bill.

 

New York State Legislature

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker declined to testify at Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate nursing homes, leaving lawmakers to instead question nursing home stakeholders about issues like shortages of testing and personal protective equipment, as well as restrictions on visitation.

 

 


New York State Legislature

Monday’s public hearing on the COVID-19 crisis in upstate New York nursing homes will likely feature talk about reforming visitation policies and a lack of personal protective equipment, but don’t expect to hear from who some consider the state’s most important nursing home witness, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The Erie County Department of Health has closed several bars and restaurants for allegedly not following COVID-19 regulations, and county lawmakers want to know if the shutdowns were justified.

 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

New York state finally gave nursing homes permission to allow visitation July 15, but more than two weeks later, the overwhelming majority of nursing homes remain closed off to visitors. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki examines the slow reopening, which some blame on nursing homes not planning ahead and others blame on what they say are overly strict state guidelines. 


Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

A statue of Christopher Columbus has been removed from its longtime perch at Porter Avenue and Niagara Street in Columbus Park.

 

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

A New York state report released this week found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial executive order, which placed COVID-19 hospital patients into nursing homes, was not to blame for the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths. But, as WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki found, many, including Republican lawmakers, watchdog groups and medical professionals, still have questions about what impact the order had.

 

 


New York state has been criticized for previously mandating that nursing homes take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals. But on Monday the state Department of Health issued a report saying the policy was not the major driver of nursing home deaths, and that it was instead nursing home workers unknowingly bringing the virus into facilities. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki spoke with Dr. Nancy Nielsen from the University at Buffalo to discuss the report and what it does — and does not — confirm about the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths.

 


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