BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WROC) — The Hurlbut Nursing Home in Brighton contains 160 beds and like all senior care facilities, the home is now required to report COVID-19 deaths to the New York State Health Department.
Facilities that have more than five deaths must be named in the report. In the most recent data from the state, 22 nursing home residents in Monroe County have died of COVID-19. That report includes eight residents of St. John’s Nursing Home in Rochester, but does not include Hurlbut.
An investigation by the Democrat and Chronicle shows at least seven of its residents have died of the virus. Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said state health officials should investigate.
“We’re generally never informed of them (deaths) by the nursing homes. That’s never been the practice anywhere here in the county and if we happen to know about them — it’s either incidentally because we are reading about them in the obituaries in the paper, or we hear about it through other means, like the media,” Mendoza said.
“We have, what we believe is an underestimate — but the question is — are we off by a little or are we off by a lot. That’s why I’ve always been hesitant to release information that I don’t think is accurate. That’s why I want us to collectively get behind the State Department of Health to dig into what is accurate and provide greater transparency in our community.”
At a time when families are not allowed to visit loved ones and facilities scramble to protect residents and staff, the demand for transparency is growing.
Hurlbut operates 13 facilities across three upstate counties and confirmed there have been losses due to COVID-19 at all three of those facilities. The company released a statement and did not say how many, but acknowledged that even one loss is too many.
“We report only COVID-19 positive fatalities that occur in our facilities. Any death that occurs at a hospital is not reported by our facilities and is not required to be reported by our facilities under the current mandate.”
— Owner Bob Hurlbut
Hurlbut said to the company’s knowledge, all information it has submitted to the state has been accurate.