As nursing home deaths rise, Alliance for Senior Care tries to slow spread

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —Nursing homes around New York are becoming the epicenter of the coronavirus fight and as the virus spreads through the most vulnerable of our community, the largest alliance of senior care nursing homes in the Great Rochester Area is taking steps to protect their elder community.

The New York state Department of Health reported a total of 22 deaths in nursing homes in Monroe County as of Monday.

At least 8,000 people nationwide have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes. People like Elizabeth Anne, an 85 year old in living in The Hurlbut nursing home.
Sally Merritt-Braciak, her daughter, could not see her in those final moments.

“Little by little, the disease, just took her, the virus just took her,” said Merritt-Braciak.

Leaders with the Alliance for Senior Care expects that numbers to rise, even with the new measures they are taking to protect elderly in their care.

The Alliance for Senior Care is made up of five nursing home facilities in the Rochester area including; St. John’s, Friendly Senior Living, Jewish Senior Life, St. Ann’s Community, and Episcopal Senior Life Communities, representing more than a third of all assisted living and skills nursing beds.

As of Friday, the alliance has reported 36 cases of COVID-19 in residents, 27 cases in employees,
and a total of 10 deaths, all residents.

Nursing facilities within the alliance have implemented restrictions on all outside visitors, daily screening of residents, and protective measures for staff.

In addition, facilities have created isolation units for positive cases and have trained medical teams on site, so people can receiving treatment in their homes.

Alliance member Dr. Kim Petrone say the challenges of fighting a virus with no vaccine, makes stopping the spread nearly impossible.

“We dont see the numbers going  low and staying low until we have a vaccine available as glen said. So all we can do at this point is really continue the fight continue not to let up continue not to let up continue to do everything we can to mitigate the risk,” said Dr. Kim Petrone, MD, Medical Director of St. Ann’s Community, Alliance member.

Alliance chair Glen Cooper says since so much of elderly care is close contact, the biggest challenge going forward safely with those daily activities

“The most important thing that nurses homes and assisted living facilities can do in the face of this threat, it to continue fighting out front line battle. We are doing everything we can to protect treat and mitigate the most vulnerable among us, in an environment where social distancing is impossible,” said Glen Cooper, President & CEO of Friendly Senior Living, Alliance for Senior Care chairman.

For the families across the nation, this could mine many missing those final moments and looking back on what they would say, like Merrit.

“I would want to take her hand an tell her that it’s okay to go.  And to think of all the sunsets over Lake Ontario. “Thank you for being my mom.   And I’ll miss you every day more and more.  But I know you’re in peace,” said Merritt-Braciak.

The alliance is following some new federal guidelines when to comes to reporting COVID-19 cases at nursing homes, including alerting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when residents test positive, as well as other residents and their families. They’re also required to report all fatalities from the virus.

Across that state of New York, a total of 3,448 nursing home or senior care residents have died from the virus.

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