NISKAYUNA — Pathways Nursing and Rehabilitation Center received an unexpected Easter gift on Sunday – and thanks:
The return of some of its ventilators donated to the coronavirus relief effort.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered them personally on Sunday morning.
After arriving in his vintage Pontiac GTO, the governor removed several units from a truck and wheeled them towards the facility.
“What an incredibly beautiful, generous gesture,” Cuomo said as people cheered from inside.
The return of the machines marks a sharp reversal from last week when the governor said the state was running out of ventilators and ordered the National Guard to distribute units from upstate hospitals to downstate facilities if necessary.
Later, the state softened the order and asked hospitals to temporarily donate 20 percent of their capacity to downstate hospitals to prepare for a surge of patients.
But the need is much lower.
Pathways offered to donate 35 units.
“One day I got a call out of the blue that said there’s a nursing home in upstate New York that wants to lend 35 ventilators to downstate New York,” Cuomo said. “It was unsolicited. Nobody called and asked. In some ways, it was the last place that would come forward because it was a nursing home.”
Cuomo said the measure gave him inspiration, energy and resolve, and was symbolic of what New Yorkers should strive to be.
“Listen to our better angels,” he said. “Be better, be more generous, more gracious, more loving. Get to that level. That’s what Pathways did and they did it for me.”
Nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to the virus, where the combination of elderly residents and a shortage of personal protective equipment has heightened risk factors.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that nearly 2,000 residents of nursing homes have died in the outbreak in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, constituting roughly 1 in 5 deaths in the region, and thousands of other residents are sick.
Cuomo delivered his brief remarks as people watched from inside the facility.
Afterward, he delivered a tray of baked goods and thanked them through the glass.
“You make a difference in my heart,” Cuomo said.
The governor did not provide an update on the number of fatalities and is scheduled to hold his day briefing in Albany later on Sunday.
“We’ve seen a lot of pain, a lot of loss,” Cuomo said. “Last night, we lost hundreds of New Yorkers to this terrible disease. It’s been disorienting. Everyone is suffering on a lot of levels.”
The daily death has hovered near 800 for the third consecutive day on Saturday, and has claimed at least 8,627 lives in the state.