October 23, 2021

15 die in Cortland County nursing homes

Metro Creative Graphics

Two hours after Donna Fahey had visited her mother, Grace Fahey, through the window of Cortland Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Cortland on Dec. 10, she found out her mother had coronavirus.

“She’s not as bad as some of the other ones,” Donna Fahey said Monday.

The state Department of Health has reported that, since Wednesday, 15 nursing home residents in Cortland County have died of COVID-19: 10 at Cortland Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and five at Crown Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Oak Hill Manor nursing home in Ithaca has lost eight residents to coronavirus since Nov. 27.

“They’re doing their best,” Fahey said about the nursing staff. “This thing is spreading like wildfire.”

Fahey said because her 94-yearold mom has dementia, she thinks she has only a bad cold. But Fahey said it could’ve been worse.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” she said, noting her mom has a loss of taste, minor cough and had a fever at one point, but hasn’t had any severe symptoms.

Facilities are doing all that they can to ensure residents stay safe and healthy, said Lisa Volk, the director of clinical and quality services with the New York State Health Facilities Association.

Volk said facilities have to follow both federal and state guidelines.

“There are safety precautions in the facility to protect the residents,” Volks said, noting there are rules regarding testing for the virus, personal protective equipment and more.

Per health department regulations when someone at a nursing home tests positive the facility suspends in-person visits for at least two weeks, said Maureen Bard, a licensed nursing home administrator at Cortland Park on the center’s website.

Bard also said the facility has been doing preventive testing of residents and staff.

Crown Park has residents hospitalized and others in the facility who have tested positive, according to a message on the facility’s website. Ill residents are kept separate from healthy ones.

“We monitor all residents for increased temperatures and observe for any symptoms,” states the website. Employees also have tested positive but did not work “since developing symptoms.”

The site states all employees are screened before their shifts or entering units. The facility has also limited activities to reduce the spread of the virus, including visitor restrictions and suspension of resident outings.

Neither Cortland Park nor Crown Park returned calls for comment.

Volk said nursing homes should remain in contact with relatives about what measures are being taken and notify families when a death occurs.

Volk said people should be aware that the virus isn’t just in nursing homes — it’s in the community. However, there’s hope with the approval of two vaccines. Volk said some facilities in New York had begun administering the vaccine Monday.

Fahey said she wishes the state would do more to help the nursing home facilities.

“They’re so short-handed,” she said.