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.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

New York nursing homes will be required to put nearly three quarters of their money toward caring for residents, as a nursing home profit cap was included in the 2021 New York State budget.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

Nursing home finances have come under scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the New York State Legislature is considering a measure to limit how much nursing homes can profit, which proponents say will mean better care for residents and opponents say will just harm the industry.

 

 

  

WXXI

HEAR EXTENDED REPORTS Part I | Part II     WATCH VIDEO

Kathie Gansemer concentrates on her breath first.

Slow, steady breaths.

Then, perhaps, she recites an inspirational quote or a poem to set the mood. One of her favorites is from the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. It encourages the reader to welcome even the most disturbing thoughts and emotions as a potential means to clear the way for an unexpected delight.

Then, focus.

Schofield Adult Day Health Care

Adult Day Health Care, which provides medical services and socialization to disabled adults of all ages, will be allowed to reopen in New York state after a year-long closure. The New York State Department of Health issued guidance Thursday evening allowing Adult Day Health Care, or ADHC, to resume in-person services as soon as April 1. 

 


Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Critics of some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic marked the anniversary of the controversial March 25, 2020 order that required the homes to take back from hospitals residents who were ill with the disease. They said an ongoing federal probe does not go far enough in investigating all that may have gone wrong in the governor’s management of nursing homes during the pandemic. 

Tori Allen/FeedMore WNY

FeedMore WNY is holding its annual Champions for Meals this week,  where government officials and community leaders help deliver meals to homebound older adults to raise awareness for FeedMore’s Meals on Wheels program. It also marks 12 months since the COVID-19 pandemic began. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki provides a look at how Meals on Wheels has more than doubled its client base in that time.

 


Yuki Iwamura / AP Photo

A controversial state law in New York that granted special legal protections to nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care providers could be repealed under a bill approved Wednesday by the state Legislature.

Schofield Adult Day Health Care

New York state has allowed doctor’s offices to remain open during the pandemic and reopened day programs for the developmentally disabled. It’s even loosened visitor restrictions at nursing homes.

 

Yet Adult Day Health Care, which provides medical services and socialization for disabled adults of all ages, has remained closed since the pandemic began. This week marked one year since the state ordered the programs to close, and now families are speaking out.


WBFO file photo

It was a year ago Monday that Erie County declared a state of emergency over COVID-19. The ensuing sickness, death and shutdowns has changed life as we knew it. Here’s a look from the WBFO staff at the lingering effects the pandemic has had on Western New York.

US Veteran's Admin/File photo

The KeyBank Center downtown will host a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic for people over 65 years of age next week, becoming the third large-scale distribution point in Erie County.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

New York lawmakers are looking to pass sweeping nursing home reforms this legislative session in light of COVID-19. One piece of legislation that predates the pandemic is a safe staffing bill, which would mandate nursing homes meet minimum staffing-to-patio ratios. 


New York State Legislature

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his staff were in damage control mode Thursday as they faced two scandals: the governor’s handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the months-long suppression of the true number of residents’ deaths, and allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed a former staffer.

Caregiving Solutions: How some nursing homes avoided COVID-19 spikes

Feb 25, 2021
Courtesy WGRZ.com

WGRZ has joined the Solutions Journalism Network and, along with The Buffalo News, Rochester Democrat & Chronical, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, Minority Reporter, Niagara Gazette, WBFO, WHEC and WXXI, is looking into a variety of stories as they relate to how nursing homes handled the pandemic, while focusing on caregivers on the front lines.

Southern Administrative Services

The Green House Project, a national network of small nursing homes, has received plenty of attention for its low rates of COVID-19 during the pandemic. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study recently called it a “promising model” for the reinvention of nursing homes in a post-pandemic world.

 

But just how replicable is it? Providers and advocates say there are still plenty of financial hurdles to cross before more nursing homes look like Green House homes. 

 

  

Beth Adams/WXXI News

COVID-19 has killed over 13,000 nursing home residents in New York state alone, and about a third of all U.S. COVID deaths have been linked to skilled nursing facilities. But a group of small nursing homes, including a facility near Rochester, have fared better against the virus than their larger, more traditional counterparts. 

 

 


A new media initiative aims to shed light on caregivers for older adults and investigate potential solutions to their challenges.  WBFO and nine other media outlets in Western New York are tackling the issue as part of a journalism collaborative supported by the Solutions Journalism Network.  

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Unions representing nursing home employees are urging Albany lawmakers to support reforms that, they say, would create greater transparency among operators, and require more investment back into staffing and direct care. Pickets and silent vigils were held at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across New York State Thursday to raise awareness and support.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an attack on one of the critics of his nursing home policies: Assemblymember Ron Kim, who lost his uncle to COVID-19 in a nursing home. Cuomo said Kim’s disagreements over nursing home policies is really about an old feud over a bill to regulate nail salons.

WBFO file photo

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is warning about elder fraud cases after two defendants pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding vulnerable people they were supposed to protect.

 


Darren McGree/Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent most of his COVID-19 briefing Monday defending his administration’s handling of nursing homes, but, amid growing scrutiny over his own actions, he also for the first time endorsed limiting how much nursing homes can profit over resident care.

 


Darren McGee/Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo broke days of silence over escalating accusations that he and his top aides deliberately withheld for months key COVID-19 death numbers of nursing home residents who succumbed to the virus. He apologized to families of residents who died in the homes during the pandemic for the anxiety that the withholding of those numbers created.

New York State Senate Republicans

Republicans in the New York State Legislature, in their effort to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes, are turning to a somewhat unlikely ally: President Joe Biden.

 


Republican state senators and some family members of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 say they are still looking for answers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, one week after a scathing report from the state’s attorney general that found twice as many nursing home residents died of the disease than what the state reported.

Yuki Iwamura / AP

report from New York’s attorney general finds that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration may have undercounted by as much as 50% the number of the state’s nursing home residents who died at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York last spring. The news has led the Republican leader of the state Senate to call for the state health commissioner’s resignation.

Tom Dinki/WBFO file photo

The New York State Attorney General’s Office report released Thursday, which found the state Department of Health may have underreported nursing home COVID-19 deaths by 50%, makes plenty of mentions about Western New York nursing homes’ struggle to provide personal protective equipment and follow infection protocols during the pandemic.

 

  

 

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is celebrating the discharge of a COVID-19 patient after 67 days, although it continues to battle against the second wave of the pandemic. 

 

  

Tom Dinki/WBFO News

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site is now active on the University at Buffalo’s South Campus, one of three New York state-run sites to open on Tuesday. However, questions remain about how many doses and appointments the site can handle, as the state struggles to meet vaccine demand with a declining supply of doses from the federal government.


Gareth Rhodes/New York State Department of Financial Services

Nursing home residents and staff account for nearly 40% of the United States’ COVID-19 deaths. That’s why they’re among the first Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. WBFO’s Tom Dinki spoke with New York state nursing home residents, operators and advocates about vaccination, which began this week.


C-Span

Hospice facilities are less regulated than nursing homes and hospitals, and government investigations have shown many are mistreating the terminally ill patients they’re tasked with comforting. A new bill passed by the House of Representatives could help change that.

Gage Skidmore

President-elect Joe Biden recently celebrated his 78th birthday. He’ll be the oldest-ever American president when he’s sworn into office in January. But what will his administration actually do for older adults? Biden has a fairly favorable agenda for older adults, but some worry whether the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession will hamper those efforts.


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