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Nursing home inspection team makes its way through WNY facilities

The New York State Department of Health is reluctant to talk about COVID compliance efforts.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For perhaps as long as two weeks an inspection team from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has been showing-up at area nursing homes for surprise inspections, largely to check compliance with new rules dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

2 On Your Side does not know exactly how long this has been going on because NYSDOH won’t say. The agency also does not explain how it selects which nursing facilities it visits. But 2 On Your Side has cobbled together a partial list of where the NYSDOH inspection team was last week.

On Monday, May 4, the state inspectors visited Absolut Care in East Aurora. Facility management described the visit as “an unannounced COVID infection control survey” where it says no deficiencies were found.

The following day, May 5, the NYSDOH inspection team paid a visit to St. Catherine Laboure Health Care Center in Buffalo on the campus of Sisters Hospital in Buffalo. It is operated by Catholic Health which says the facility was found in “substantial compliance” with state regulations.

And last Friday, May 8, inspectors visited Newfane Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. As of Monday, there have been 22 residents who’ve reportedly died of COVID related illness.

2 On Your Side has received a copy of a recorded message sent yesterday to people with loved ones at the nursing home.

This a transcript of a portion of that message:

We have tested all of our staff on Saturday, May 9, 2020.... for COVID-19... and there were eight staff members that tested positive. These staff members have been removed from the schedule for the next fourteen days. I’m saddened to also let you know that... of the passing of one of our beloved residents last night. Please rest assured that our expert medical and clinic team are working proactively to maintain the health and safety of our residents and one another. Our healthcare workers are committed and are working tirelessly to insure the safety of our residents during this difficult time.

Newfane Rehab was contacted by 2 On Your Side about the question the message raised including whether staffing was sufficient given that they has lost eight employees for at least 14-days. There was no reply to our questions.

The NYSDOH has acknowledged the inspection visit at Newfane Rehab but declined further comment because of it on-going investigation.

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