NISKAYUNA — Coronavirus has taken grip at Ingersoll Place Assisted Living, where at least three residents have died from the virus and at least 27 residents and 10 employees have tested positive.
The first resident died several weeks ago, and the facility announced two additional deaths in a letter to family members on Saturday.
“It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of two Ingersoll Place residents over the past two days due to complications with the coronavirus/COVID-19,” according to the notification obtained by The Daily Gazette. “They were hospitalized at the time of their deaths and their families notified.”
Twelve residents tested positive following state-run testing at the facility on Tuesday and are in quarantine, confirmed Ingersoll Place spokesperson Ceil Mack on Saturday.
All were asymptomatic.
An additional 13 residents had previously been sent to hospitals over the past two weeks and tested positive.
“Most remain hospitalized or in skilled nursing facilities,” according to a memo sent to family members on Thursday.
The letter added: “There are a few residents either hospitalized or residing at Ingersoll Place that are awaiting test results.”
Two hospitalized residents have since received positive diagnoses following Tuesday’s testing, bringing total numbers to 27.
Thirty-four residents have tested negative.
Mack estimated Ingersoll Place housed 70 people before the pandemic.
Ten Ingersoll Place employees previously tested positive and numbers may increase pending test results.
State and county officials declined to confirm positive diagnoses or deaths and referred questions to the facility, which confirmed all numbers Saturday evening.
DEATH TOLL SPIKES
More than half of the county’s 22 deaths from the virus have been at adult-care facilities.
“As of today, we can confirm that 12 adult care facility residents, within Schenectady County, that have tested positive for COVID-19, have unfortunately passed away,” said county spokesperson Erin Roberts.
A total of 58 adult care facility residents within the county have tested positive, Roberts said.
“Of those, 39 are current positive cases,” she said.
To date, 413 county residents have received positive diagnoses, which means 14 percent of positive cases have been residents of long-term care facilities.
Ingersoll Place Assisted Living informed family members after receiving results on Thursday, Mack said, and will continue to provide updates to them every 24 hours.
The outbreak comes as the virus continues to spread in Schenectady County, which announced seven new COVID-19-related deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 22.
To date, 413 people have tested positive, an increase of 23 over the day before; 179 people are in isolation after presenting symptoms, and 667 are under quarantine.
With 23 people hospitalized, the number remains relatively flat and uncharged over the past two weeks.
Nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to the virus, which has killed 16,599 people in the state, including 437 New Yorkers, 19 of them nursing home residents, on Friday.
Despite stringent safeguards, the virus is continuing to creep into facilities across the region:
Twenty-three residents at the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Gloversville tested positive on Friday, according to county officials, who announced the outbreak in a press release.
In Albany County, 39 residents and 15 employees have tested positive at Shaker Place Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, Albany County Dan McCoy said on Saturday.
The death toll remains at two.
“We’ve been aggressive and on top of it since day one and we’ll continue to be on top of it,” McCoy said.
No patients are currently positive at the county-run Glendale Home as of Friday morning, according to Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman, who attributed to strict protocols implemented early on in the crisis.
One staffer had previously tested positive and has since recovered, Fluman said in a Facebook Live event on Friday.
The true picture of the virus’ spread in adult care facilities is unclear because of varying statutes regarding disclosure.
Nursing homes must comply with a series of state executive orders, including notifying family members of residents about positive tests or deaths.
Ingersoll Place is not a nursing home, but is adopting the same protocols.
But there are no directives compelling facilities to release that information to the general public and it’s up to long-term care facilities to determine how they’re letting the public know, Fluman said.
Assisted care facilities like Ingersoll under the same regulations to let emergency contacts know who has been infected by COVID-19, he said.
“Information about a specific facility should be requested from that private facility,” said Roberts when asked if the county’s official position is that it won’t confirm deaths aside from the county-run Glendale Home.
McCoy called for more transparency.
“It’s a national issue, so they have to realize there’s a lot of interest going on with our most vulnerable residents,” McCoy said on Saturday.
Counties have some insight into nursing homes, but lack oversight, which is provided by the state and federal government.
“If there is a cluster of COVID-19 or if there is, quote, an ‘outbreak’ in a nursing home, the state Department of Health comes in very quick to assist with testing and to assist with management,” Fluman said.
The county worked with Ingersoll Place to facilitate this week’s testing, said Roberts, and serves as a liaison between the facility, Ellis Medicine and first responders to facilitate “appropriate transfer and care.”
The county has dedicated two staff members to communicate with Ingersoll’s nursing, administration and board on a daily basis.
They’ve also facilitated communication between Ingersoll and the state to help them obtain additional nursing staff, Roberts said.
County public efforts also assists with supplying personal protective equipment and training to ensure facilities are conducting isolation procedures properly.
State officials acknowledged earlier this week some nursing homes have failed to submit mandatory reports requiring them to immediately notify state and public health authorities of positive cases and deaths, resulting in a new probe by the state Department of Health and Attorney General’s Office.
As part of the investigation, the state will explore why some nursing homes have so many more deaths than others.
While not a nursing home, Ingersoll Place is complying with all requirements, Mack said.
Private nursing homes that can’t adequately care for patients and following quarantine protocols must facilitate their transfer, according to the state order.
“If you can’t provide care, you’re not supposed to be keeping people in that facility, period,” Cuomo said on Saturday.
The governor also defended a state order forbidding nursing homes from refusing to accept “medically stable” coronavirus patients transferred from other facilities.
“They don’t have the right to object,” Cuomo said on Thursday. “That is the rule, and that is the regulation, and they have to comply with it, and the regulation is basic common sense.”
State officials said they expect to ramp up testing at nursing homes statewide next week.