Controversy continues at The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell facility. On Thursday, Kinderhook Town Supervisor Patsy Leader called for a state investigation into management's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of 216 residents at Barnwell, 118 have tested positive for COVID-19. Eight residents have died.
Danielle Hilton has lived at Barnwell for five years and says this is the worst it's ever been.
"We just kept hearing more and more cases of it and people dying," says Hilton.
Hilton says the facility is understaffed, under-tested, and overwhelmed. She claims once a resident tested positive for COVID-19, staff began to quit.
"You're just anxious all the time because of the trapped feeling and the abandonment, and wondering if you're going to just be shipped off to some random hospital," Hilton said.
Jay Lawrence, the corporate director of business development for the Grand, wouldn’t comment on reported staffing shortages at Barnwell. But Lawrence says staff is equipped with PPE and checked when coming into the facility.
That answer doesn’t satisfy local officials, specifically Leader.
"I really feel that the state needs to wake up and smell the coffee and come down and help … Our main concern is to make sure that we have the right tools and the right people taking care of the situation," said Leader.
Thirty-seven Barnwell residents who tested negative for COVID-19 have been moved out of the facility this week. Thirty-five were sent to three other Grand-owned properties. Two residents were released.
Hilton was sent to The Grand at Rome on Monday. She was told about the move on Sunday.
According to state numbers, The Grand at Rome has had eight COVID-related deaths. Other residents were taken to facilities on Long Island and in Dutchess County, where COVID deaths have also been reported.
When asked about the moves, Lawrence said, "All transfers were certainly in the best interest of the vulnerable population and to ensure the greatest opportunity to provide exceptional care and maintain as normal a quality of life given the circumstances.”
The Grand released a statement on Thursday, saying it believes Barnwell is "ahead of the curve and in lockstep with NYSDOH." The statement goes on to read, "As guidance continues to evolve, so too will our implementation of required courses of action."
The statement also claims Barnwell was among the first facilities in the state to test all residents.
When asked on Wednesday about complying with new state testing regulations at nursing homes, Lawrence said, "The directive is very recent and it's still a very fluid situation. We are certainly intending and will be abiding by all proper protocol and procedure as per guidance. How that will manifest still remains to be seen."