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

Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

Western New York has met all of the required metrics required by the state to begin the first phase of reopening from the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Monday morning.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Employees of Center Health Care’s two Buffalo nursing homes protested over a lack of hazard pay Thursday, saying they are putting themselves and their families at risk without being fairly compensated.

 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed death and dying to the forefront of many Americans’ lives, but for almost a decade thousands across the world have met to talk about death at what’s known as a Death Cafe. Before the pandemic shut down large gatherings, WBFO’s Tom Dinki attended the most recent Buffalo Death Cafe, and heard why some are longing to openly discuss their own mortality. 

Catholic Health

New York state reports that Father Baker Manor has had more residents die of COVID-19 than any nursing home in Western New York. Those who operate Father Baker Manor say there’s a reason why: They’re actually testing their residents for COVID-19, while many other nursing homes are not.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News file photo

Western New York has seen at least 150 nursing home residents across more than 20 facilities die of COVID-19, according to the latest data from New York state, but the death toll could be even higher.

Mike Groll, Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

At least 2,900 New York state nursing home residents have died of COVID-19, including at least 70 in Western New York. Now the state will investigate whether facilities have done everything possible to prevent those deaths.

 

Renee Zureck

Most Americans are struggling to adapt to stay-at-home orders, business shutdowns and social distancing guidelines under COVID-19, but such radical changes can be especially difficult for families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, who rely heavily on routine. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki takes a look at their struggles — and what resources are available to help.

 

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Health care workers at Safire Rehabilitation of Northtowns protested on Friday, saying they haven’t been given adequate personal protective equipment or safety training despite the fact both they and residents are sick with COVID-19.

 

Erie County

While data released by New York state Monday indicated nearly half of Erie County’s COVID-19 deaths were nursing home residents, County Executive Mark Poloncarz says nursing homes residents likely account for closer to one third of the county’s total deaths.

Google Maps

Nearly half of Western New Yorkers dead of COVID-19 are nursing home residents, according to data released by the New York State Department of Health Monday.


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Advocates are calling on New York state nursing homes to suspend involuntary discharges and transfers during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it puts residents at increased risk of exposure and hurts their due process rights. 


Catholic Health

Catholic Health announced Monday there are more than 60 cases of COVID-19 at Father Baker Manor, in what is believed to be the first major outbreak at a Western New York nursing home.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to many court proceedings, including Erie County and nursing homes’ legal feud over Ruthie’s Law.

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

The Elderwood nursing home in Amherst will soon take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals, creating what’s believed to be Western New York’s first post-acute care unit for those with the novel coronavirus but also causing concerns for residents’ families.

 

 

Albert Pautler

Nursing homes have shut their doors to visitors to protect residents from the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s led to questions about how families can stay in touch with their loved ones — and make sure they're getting the care they need. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki reports how the issue is playing out in Western New York nursing homes.

 

Elderwood nursing homes

Western New York nursing homes are running short on personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are now asking for donations.

WBFO file photo

Meals on Wheels for Western New York wants to deliver to even more older adults to keep them home and safe due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

 

There’s just one problem.

 

Many Meals on Wheels delivery volunteers are older adults themselves, meaning they may be just as likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 as the seniors they’re trying to protect. 

 


WGRZ

Niagara County has its first resident to test positive for COVID-19 as health officials express concern about their lack of testing capacity.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Erie County has its first evidence of community spread of COVID-19, meaning the new coronavirus is officially being transmitted between county residents and officials can longer be certain how residents were exposed.

 

 

Center for Elder Law and Justice

Older adults are considered at greater risk to suffer serious complications from the new coronavirus. Now a Buffalo nonprofit legal agency is offering them free advice on topics like health insurance and paid leave.

WBFO file photo

Erie County will suspend many of its older adult programs, including congregate dining at senior centers, to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus.

 

Darren McGee, Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York state is mandating nursing homes not allow visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday afternoon that the state’s approximately 620 nursing homes can only allow “medically necessary” visits, given that older adults are at high risk of suffering serious complications from the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.

SHAPECHARGE / GETTY IMAGES

Nursing homes across New York state have been restricting visitation in light of the coronavirus outbreak, cutting visiting hours and screening visitors for flu-like symptoms. Now the head of a statewide nursing home trade group says many of them will soon outright prohibit almost all visitation. 


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The vast state and city university systems in New York are switching to long-distance learning March 19, and most students will be going home due to worries about the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.


WBFO file photo

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo expects it will eventually have to suspend the sharing of a common cup during Holy Communion due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Staying isolated in your bedroom. Using a bathroom that’s only used by you. Texting your temperature to health officials.

 

That’s life for the approximately 116 Erie County residents under 14-day voluntary quarantine due to the new coronavirus. Those quarantined don’t necessarily have the virus — no one in Erie County has tested positive thus far — but they are being monitored due to recent travel history or because they’ve been in contact with someone who does have the virus, as per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

 


Erie County

Erie County announced last month it will finally begin fining nursing homes for not complying with Ruthie's Law after months of scrutiny over a lack of enforcement. That caused local nursing homes to file a lawsuit, arguing Ruthie’s Law conflicts with state law and is therefore illegal. WBFO explored what happens when a local law potentially conflicts with state law.

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

While the two Erie County families who recently traveled to Italy have tested negative for the new coronavirus, county officials warn the local fight against the outbreak, and the testing of more county residents, is far from over.

 


WBFO file photo

The Burchfield Penney Art Center has received gifts totaling $1.22 million that center officials say will help them better bring arts education to diverse families and school children. 

 

Nick Lippa / WBFO

The Buffalo Teachers Federation is expecting to meet the Buffalo Public Schools in court two weeks from today. The BTF says the BPS is not meeting state requirements for music education. Amidst the conflict, two Hutch Tech High School music teachers could be facing a position cut after speaking out about the issue. Retired Hutch Tech music teacher Ben Boyar and two alumni spoke about some of the challenges they faced as part of the band program.

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