NY nursing homes fear another wave of COVID deaths

"We don’t want Covid patients here. This is a nursing home full of vulnerable people and we say no, please don’t do it," said Vincent Pierce.

Pierce believes the city should be doing everything it can to keep New Yorkers safe. Instead, he feels the city has been reckless with his life and the lives of hundreds of residents at Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center, located on Roosevelt Island.

"At the time we voiced our concerns and they told us they weren’t bringing Covid patients in but they did anyway," said Pierce.

The facility, which is run by the city’s Health + Hospitals Corporation, first moved COVID-19 patients at the start of the pandemic into Roosevelt Island Medical Center, which is a building attached to Coler. They moved out a few months later and now residents, staff and some local elected fear the COVID-19 hospital will return.

"We know there is a second wave, third wave of Covid but this is not the place to bring patients," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

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Richard Mollot with the nonprofit Long Term Care Community Coalition notes that Coler is a very large campus and he isn’t opposed to COVID-19 patients coming in, but there needs to be appropriate care, and that doesn’t seem to be the case, in his opinion. He says the facility has a history of insufficient staffing and health violations.

"It really worries me. If you already have low staffing then how are you going to adequately segregate, how are you going to make sure they are taking the time to wash their hands, to make sure the equipment is sanitized when it goes from unity unit or when people go from unit to unit?" asked Mollot.

Coler residents complained to Fox 5 that the COVID-19 hospital shared the same hallways, elevators and other infrastructure as their nursing home. The city’s Health * Hospitals Corporation tells Fox in a statement:

"NYC Health + Hospitals has no plans to open the Roosevelt Island Medical Center to respond to the current increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations. NYC Health + Hospitals’ priority remains the safety of its patients, residents, and staff for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of our heroic frontline providers, we will manage any increase in patients with our continuing commitment to ensure that all infection control measures are followed for the safety of all under our care."

However, HHC did say it would only re-open the COVID-19 hospital on Roosevelt Island to address high patient volumes, and right now we aren’t close to reaching those numbers.