Following KCP’s exclusive story about dead elderly patients being left to decompose at a Crown Heights Nursing home, Attorney General Letitia James, and Central Brooklyn lawmakers State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D) and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D) are all launching investigations about the reportedly disturbing conditions at the facility.
The story unfolded when longtime civic activist and Assembly candidate Stefani Zinerman received calls from workers at the Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation (CHC), 810 St. Marks Avenue, that eight elderly dead were left in their rooms inside the nursing facility. The CHC staff also told Zinerman they were concerned about their health because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
James issued a statement following the story that her office had also received multiple complaints about the alleged conditions at CHC.
“While this is a challenging time for all caretakers, the responsibility to treat elderly and disabled nursing home residents with the care and respect they deserve remains paramount,” said James. “Our office is in contact with management, residents, families of residents, and relevant government partners. We are closely monitoring the situation and will take action, as appropriate, to protect these and other nursing home residents.”
Richardson said that the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office, senate office, and congress members are all working to get to the bottom of the situation at CHC. Richardson said that, as of Saturday, April 11, she received notice that the situation is on its way to remedy or being remedied.
“We as electeds found out only a short while ago about the entirety of this situation which none of us support,” said Richardson. “The seniors of our community are elders we hold dear to our heart for the sacrifice they have provided to pave the way for new generations to thrive. So at no point would we ever want to see them put in harm’s way and or have a state-run nursing home facility neglect their health or neglect to take proper health precautions in terms of moving deceased bodies and notifying the coroner’s office to do so.”
Community liaisons for Montgomery said that constituents reached out to their office as well. The senator was coordinating with the department of health and the nursing home director to make sure the bodies of the deceased individuals were removed.
Families, outspoken staff, and advocates for the nursing home’s residents have long been dissatisfied with the care of the elderly at the facility.
Donna Price, President of the Family Council for CHC Nursing and Rehab, said that even before the virus outbreak the nursing home was notoriously understaffed and poorly run, with most of the black and brown patients and staff being disrespected by the higher-ups.
Price alleges that management often didn’t leave the first floor, and handed out gag orders to the staff once the coronavirus shut-in was underway.
“When a person is taken out of the room, from what I understand, suffering from the virus or somebody died there, that room is not fumigated and another person was just added to the room,” she said, about the lack of sanitation from sources at CHC. “Because nobody cares.”
Price’s mother, who died last September at the age of 102-years-old, was housed at CHC for 15 years. Price noted an instance where a person had a case of conjunctivitis, or viral infection in the eye, and was allowed to move around. She was incredibly concerned for her mother’s safety at that time.
Price said the institution is a landmark that is needed in the community, so it should be investigated not closed down. She said the staff have finally received proper PPE from head-to-toe since the coroner’s office and police were at CHC last Wednesday.
Richardson said that they were penning a letter to the governor’s office asking that nursing homes go under receivership, in which the state takes custody of the company’s property and operations.
Richardson thanks and encourages staff and essential workers that risked their jobs to be vocal in times of crisis.
“They are on the front line,” said Richardson. “They are seeing and know of details that even elected officials wouldn’t know.”