WBFO Older Adults News Desk

The WBFO Older Adults News Desk is funded by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and Elderwood.

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.

 


Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

A small band of protesters gathered Wednesday outside the state capital to demand that Gov. Andrew Cuomo loosen restrictions for visiting residents at nursing homes. But so far, the governor shows no sign of changing the rules.

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. 

 

 


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.

 


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.

 

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.

 


Office of the Governor

The New York State Legislature on Monday held the first of two hearings on the thousands of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents. Questions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, focused on a controversial March 25 directive that required nursing homes to take back COVID-19 patients from hospitals.

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. 


WBFO/Michael Mroziak

Organizers of what was called the Strike for Black Lives say Monday's nationwide event was a call to governments and corporations to confront systemic racism in society and in the economy. In the Buffalo area, 1199SEIU members also used the occasion to raise awareness of working conditions in local nursing homes.

NYS to allow limited visitation at nursing homes

Jul 11, 2020
Office of the Governor

New York State will now allow limited and regulated visitation at nursing homes that have been free of COVID-19 for at least 28 days, the state Department of Health said Friday.

Kevin P. Coughlin / (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.

 


Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued a report Monday on the likely cause of deaths from COVID-19 in New York’s nursing homes that he says shows the virus came in through infected staff, not through hospital readmissions. 

 

 


Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Older adults are most vulnerable to become seriously ill from COVID-19, so even as Western New York and other areas of the country begin to reopen, public health officials warn those over 65 should continue to limit their exposure. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki explores what local nonprofit organizations are doing to help seniors get their essentials without risking their health. 


WBFO file photo

The Erie County Legislature has joined the call for an independent investigation into how New York state has handled the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.


The McGuire Group

The McGuire Group announced Thursday that Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Williamsville is now exclusively taking care of residents sick with COVID-19.

 

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.

 

Twitter

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has asked Ottawa to send military personnel to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in the province’s long-term care homes. Ford said in a fight like this, nothing is left off the table.

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.

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