ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Recently, they investigated dumping of nursing home residents. The investigation included how to count nursing home deaths. The way New York (and perhaps other states) count nursing home deaths incentivized dumping so the mortality rate at the facility looks better. The administration insisted the move wasn’t to help nursing homes suppress the fatalities and exposures.
“In the early weeks of the pandemic, the state had counted these deaths by attributing them to the nursing home regardless of where they physically occurred. But in April — as the death toll related to nursing homes mushroomed, hitting as many as 250 deaths a day — that changed: The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided not to count residents who died of COVID-19 in hospitals as nursing home deaths, saying it feared that their deaths would be double-counted if they were recorded that way.”
A nurse with the Columbia County Health Department discovered a pattern. She recorded the COVID-19 deaths at nearby hospitals. Many came from the same nursing home. The people dying were residents of the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing in Barnwell. In all, the nurse counted at least 18 deaths of residents over a month. She noted that all had orders saying no measures were to be taken to keep them alive.
Her boss Dr. Mabb said that his department’s nurse had sent reports about the deaths of Barnwell residents to state authorities. He then asked for an investigation. Mabb contends that some residents died immediately after arriving at the hospitals. The fact that all 18 had do-not-resuscitate orders or similar directives is suspicious.
Patsy Leader, the town supervisor, requested an investigation. She accuses Barnwell of dumping dying residents. Leader repeated the allegation in an interview with ProPublica.
“There are very few legitimate reasons for a nursing home to send seriously ill residents with do-not-resuscitate orders to a hospital unless there is a real chance that their conditions could be improved,” Mabb said. “We flagged it for the state. We told the Department of Health we thought something big was going on.”
Since May, Health Department investigators conducted “complaint surveys” at the Barnwell home. Scores of staff members and residents at the home tested positive for COVID-19. The Department of Health website shows that inspectors found problems with the facility’s ability to contain the virus: The facility failed to separate uninfected residents living with infected residents; the facility failed to separate residents suspected of having COVID-19. New York had to relocate dozens of residents. The inspectors cited the facility and ordered a halt to additional admissions. Those poor residents.
Barnwell staffers were confused about safety rules and proper infection control. The caregivers did not know when to wear masks and gloves. The report said the spread of the virus in the homes had been driven by infected staff members. Incredible. Clearly Avoidable. This kind of behavior is happening all over the country including Spartanburg. Call us. We hope we can help.