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Posted 27 May 2020 at 6:33 pm

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Unemployment rate in Orleans at 15.8%
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 6:31 pm

State DOL data shows big jump in unemployment

The state Department of Labor today announced the unemployment rates for April in the state and counties. Orleans County is at 15.8 percent and state-wide the rate is at 15.0 percent.

In April 2019, the unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in Orleans and 3.6 percent state-wide.

In March, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in Orleans County and 4.2 percent in the state.

The state DOL report says 14,300 people were working in the county in April, which was down 2,300 from 16,500 in April 2019. The number of unemployed increased by 2,000, from 700 to 2,700.

The Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate for nearby metro areas at 19.2 percent for Buffalo-Niagara Falls and 14.9 percent in Rochester.

The unemployment rates for other nearby counties include Niagara, 21.9 percent; Erie, 18.6 percent; Genesee, 14.4 percent; and Monroe, 15.0 percent.

The state DOL has a list online showing the unemployment rates since January 1976. The 15.0 percent is the highest state-wide rate in the 44 years that records are available. The next highest was 11.2 percent in both January and February 1976.

The last time Orleans County was above 10 percent in unemployment was February 2013 (10.6 percent) and January 2013 (11.2 percent).

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Sheriff warns of Social Security scam
Posted 27 May 2020 at 6:14 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke

ALBION – The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports recently of people calling local residents representing themselves as employees of the Social Security Administration.

We would advise you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number or bank account information to unknown individuals over the phone or internet.

If you receive a call and are not expecting one, be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up and – if you need more clarification – contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.

The Social Security will never:

  • Call to threaten you with arrest or legal action if you do not immediately pay a debt, fine or fee.
  • Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended, or offer to increase your benefits or resolve identity theft problems in exchange for payment.
  • Require payment via retail gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or internet currency like Bitcoin, or by mailing cash.
  • Demand secrecy in handling a Social Security-related problem, or tell you to make up a story to tell your friends, family, or store/bank employees.
  • Text you unsolicited to tell you about a problem with your Social Security number or benefits.
  • Email you attached documents containing your personally identifiable information.

If you receive one of these calls:

  • Hang up!
  • Do not give them money or personal information!
  • Report Social Security scams at
  • Report other imposter scams at

Please report any scam or fraudulent calls to following:

The Social Security Administration’s main number is 1-800-772-1213. You should also report fraudulent calls. You can report them to the inspector general by calling the hotline number or going online. You also can report it to the F.T.C. on a complaint website,, dedicated to Social Security scams.

The Orleans County Sheriff recommends using extreme caution when giving personal information over the phone. Only provide personal information to people you know are legitimate or a trusted family members.

Please contact the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office for assistance if you have any questions about fraudulent scam calls.

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Health Department reports 1 more case of Covid-19 in Orleans, 2 in Genesee
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 4:26 pm

There is one new case of Covid-19 in Orleans County, a person in the 70s from Carlton, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported this afternoon.

Orleans County has now had 209 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The Health Department is reporting 70 people from the community have recovered after contracting the virus. That doesn’t include cases in nursing homes and also group homes for disabled residents. The county has had 33 deaths from Covid-19.

There are 20 people from the county currently hospitalized with Covid-19.

In Genesee County, there are two new confirmed cases, bringing the Genesee total to 183.

The new cases include a resident of Batavia and a person who lives in Darien. One of the confirmed cases is a person in the 20s, and the other is in the 30s.

One of the positive cases was not on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.

The Health Department is reporting two more recoveries, bringing that total to 119. Two people in Genesee are currently hospitalized with Covid-19.

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Farmers can apply to add land to county’s Ag District during June
Posted 27 May 2020 at 3:57 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: An apple orchard on Riches Corners Road in Albion is in bloom in this photo taken Saturday from Mount Albion Cemetery.

Press Release, Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

ALBION — Orleans County is accepting enrollment of additional parcels in certified agricultural districts during the month of June, pursuant to New York State Agricultural and Markets Law.

This annual 30-day window is for inclusion of property which is predominantly viable agricultural land. During this time period, land may only be added and not removed from County Agricultural District No. 1, which in 2016 became the sole agricultural district in the county as a result of a consolidation process.

This opportunity supplements, but does not replace, enrollment in an existing agricultural district during the eight-year, formal review process. It allows a once-a-year opportunity for a property owner to request that the County Legislature add parcel(s) to Orleans County Consolidated Agricultural District No. 1 (District C-1).

The next eight-year anniversary review — the only time parcels can be both added and removed — will not occur until 2024. Presently, there are over 116,700 acres in County Agricultural District No. 1.

Requests for inclusion in agricultural district will be reviewed, in order, by the Orleans County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board, the Orleans County Legislature, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

To enroll, owners must complete and sign and a “Letter of Intent for Annual Enrollment” form. Enrollment forms are available from the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development. (Click here for more information.)

Completed and signed forms should be sent by June 30th to:

Thomas Lampo, Planner

Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

14016 Route 31 West

Albion, NY 14411-9382

Please note that requesting enrollment during this 30-day time period is not a guarantee that an owner’s property will be added to Agricultural District No. 1. Moreover, it will not automatically qualify land for a reduced agricultural property tax assessment. For information on obtaining a reduced agricultural property tax assessment, please contact the local town assessor.

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School bell from 1850 now displayed at Medina HS lobby
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 12:39 pm

Provided photo: A school bell from the Medina Free Academy is now on display in the lobby at Medina High School.

MEDINA – The lobby in Medina High School now displays a cast-iron bell that used to ring at Medina’s first public school – the Medina Free Academy on Catherine Street.

That school opened in 1851. The bell was made a year earlier in Buffalo. When the Medina Academy opened in 1851, it was only the third school in the state to offer free education for students. Most academies then were tuition-based, Lacy said.

The school was knocked down in 1922 and a new school was built there and served as the high school until 1991. When the Academy building was razed in 1922, the bell was stored in the basement of Central School, an elementary school on South Academy Street.

After fire destroyed Central School in 1967, contractor Carl Petronio Jr. was hired to clean up the rubble and discovered the bell. He removed it to storage and recently donated it to the Medina Historical Society.

Craig Lacy, former Historical Society president, realized the significance of the 700-pound bell. He contacted Barnes Metal Finishing Company, which restored the bell.

Mark Kruzynski, the Medina school superintendent, is happy to have the bell on display in a prominent location in the high school. The district had a base made to display the bell as part of a current capital project. The base looks like Medina sandstone but is actually cultured stone. The district used similar stone with the upgraded entrance to Vets’ Park.

Kruzynski said the bell is an important artifact in the community’s public school history. He also hopes the bell can be used in future graduation ceremonies in the high school. Perhaps the bell could be rung to kick off the commencement ceremony, he said.

“We wanted it to be seen by a lot of people and also to be protected,” Kruzynski said about the location in the school’s lobby.

This image shows the Medina Free Academy, which opened in 1851 with the average attendance of about 300 to 400 students. The bell tower is at top.

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Cindy Perry retiring after 25 years of promoting community health
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 May 2020 at 11:41 am

Provided photos: Cindy Perry, whose retirement from Community Partners is effective Thursday, is shown here with at the last For Women Only held in 2019 with her future mother-in-law Dorothy Follman of Kenyonville and niece Joanna Follman. Dorothy is a breast cancer survivor and the longest survivor at the 2019 event. Perry said growing For Women Only into one of the most successful events for women locally was a highlight of her career.

MEDINA – Cindy Perry has had an exciting and rewarding career with Orleans Community Health’s Community Partners, a program she helped develop and grow for 25 years.

Now Perry, a resident of Waterport, has decided it’s time to retire. Thursday is officially her last day.

The decision to retire was easier to make with the knowledge Jessica Capurso will step into the role she has nurtured and cultivated all through the years.

Perry, who has a home on Lake Alice, grew up on the western end of the lake. She attended school in Albion and graduated from Lyndonville High School. She initially went to school in Rochester to become a dental assistant, but soon realized that was not for her.

She entered Brockport State College, and although she had excelled in chemistry, her duo major in school and community was a perfect fit. As part of her studies at Brockport, she did an internship at Medina Memorial Hospital, which later resulted in her being hired there. At the time, the hospital was just starting a pre-natal care program.

She met Fran Perry of Medina when he stopped to help her with a flat tire, and they were married in 1982.

“Both of us wanted to live in the country, and we bought this summer cottage, which was built in 1957, the year I was born,” Perry said. “It wasn’t even winterized.”

In 1993, Perry contracted with Medina Memorial Hospital, and after two years they hired her.

Her early career was spent in writing a lot of grants, which were plentiful back then. As Perry and the hospital worked to develop wellness programs, which included diabetes, healthy heart, smoking cessation and dental health for children, Community Partners grew.

Community Partners has always based its programs on community need, Perry said.

Cindy Perry, right, director of outreach, education and marketing at Community Partners, shares some leisure time at her home on Lake Alice with Jessica Capurso, who will step into Perry’s role at Orleans Community Health. Perry has announced her retirement, effective Thursday, after 25 years with the hospital.

“Orleans County has had high incidences of smokers, cardiovascular disease and lead poisoning,” she said. “There were never any resources for dental health.”

Through the years, Perry developed the Teddy Bear Clinic, one of her favorite programs, in which children are brought to the hospital to view it in a non-threatening way. Then came Breakfast with Santa and an arthritis exercise program. She also promoted their speakers’ group, in which qualified individuals from the hospital would agree to speak to organizations or events, in an effort to market the hospital’s services and educate the community.

“We have developed a lot of partnerships with community organizations, such as GCASA, Community Action and the Health Department,” Capurso said.

Perry’s husband died in 2011, only a week after being diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.

Several years ago, she received a visit from Mark Follman, who grew up across the lake and with whom she had gone to school since third grade.

“We rode motorcycles to school and water skied together,” Perry said. “He says he had a crush on me way back then.”

They have become engaged and will live in her house on the lake. Follman’s parents still live in Kenyonville.

Perry has always been active in her community, having been involved in Healthy Orleans Network, Albion Rotary, United Way, Community Action’s Policy Council and Health and Wellness Committee, Opioid Task Force, Suicide Prevention Committee, Office for the Aging’s Advisory Council, Human Services Council, Diabetes Coalition, Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition and Lead Prevention Coalition.

Although she is looking forward to this new phase in her life, Perry admits life will be different not having to go to work.

“I’ve worked since I was 12 years old, and I’ve never been on unemployment,” she said. “But I’m ready to kick back and spend some time with family members. I’ve loved working at the hospital and working for the community. But when Jess started working for me, I knew she was the one to take over. She has a personality that fits the position. I spent a lot of time developing that department and I want someone who will carry on that legacy. I feel very calm and confident she will do a good job.”

Capurso came to Albion when her family moved from Hamlin when she was 4. She graduated from Albion High School in 1999 and attended Genesee Community College for two years, and then received a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Brockport State College. Her first job was at CRFS as a claims processor, where in two years she had advanced to the role of assistant vice president.

She left that position when she was offered the job as executive director of United Way of Orleans County. Capurso has worked with Perry in community outreach since 2015.

“I’m extremely excited about my new position,” Capurso said. “I’ve also had jobs at McDonald’s and Rite Aid, but I think now I’ve really found my niche. A job where I can make a difference in my community means more to me. This job offers more interaction. When I teach a pre-diabetes class, I’m changing lifestyles, and I still get to use my marketing degree.”

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Posted 27 May 2020 at 11:00 am

Link to Medina Family Medicine website

Canal images sought for annual photo contest
Posted 27 May 2020 at 10:57 am

Wesley Merritt of Clifton Park took this photo of the Canal Park in Waterford. It won first place in the “Canal Communities” category in last year’s Erie Canalway Photo Contest.

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

WATERFORD – The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is calling for entries for its 15th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Images should convey the unique character of New York’s canals and canal communities.

Entries must be postmarked by August 28. Winning photos will be featured in the 2021 Erie Canalway calendar.

Images will be judged in four contest categories:

  • On the Water: Activities on the water; boats of all stripes.
  • Along the Trail: Cyclists, walkers, strollers, and activities or scenes along the Erie Canalway Trail.
  • Canal Communities: Historic downtowns, distinctive architecture, farmers markets, events, and scenes taken in canal communities.
  • Classic Canal: When you see it, you know it—photos that could be taken only here; photos of on-water activities, engineering marvels, canal structures, nature, or other scenes that show the distinctive sense of place of the Erie Canalway.

Judges will select first, second, and third place winning images in each category, as well as 12 honorable mentions.

Submitted images must be taken within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York. It encompasses the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities.

Download official contest rules and an entry form are available by clicking here.

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Local Boy Scouts won’t have summer camps this year
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 10:11 am

File photo: Boy Scouts from Troop 175 from West Barre attended Camp Dittmer in Phelps in July 2017. Eli Pask, left, joins five other Scouts in erecting a lean-to for their overnight campout.

BATAVIA – The Iroquois Trail Council has decided there won’t be summer camping programs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The safety of our Scouts, volunteer leaders, Scouting families, and summer camp staff is our top priority,” according to announcement today from Council leaders – Jim McMullen, Scout Executive; Bob Confer, Council President; and Paul Fleming, Council Commissioner.

The Council will be suspending traditional camp programs this year with day camps and overnight programs at Camp Sam Wood in Pike and Camp Dittmer in Phelps.

“We are guided first and foremost by safety concerns, and also by the knowledge that the precautionary procedures we would need to put in place would greatly reduce the summer camp experience,” the Scout leaders said in their letter. “We know that camp is an important part of every Scout’s program, and did not make this decision lightly.”

The Scouting leaders said about 200 local families completed a recent camp participation survey.

“The overwhelming number of respondents (nearly 70%) shared their concerns that there were too many unanswered safety questions and that our traditional programs would be far too altered by precautionary measures; more so than what any of us would anticipate,” according to the letter from McMullen, Confer and Fleming.

The Council is giving Scouting families the option of rolling the camp deposit to summer camp 2021, receiving a refund, or donating a portion of it to help support the council and the camps.

“Our staff are saddened that we are not able to serve your Scouts at our camps this summer,” the Council leaders wrote in the letter. “The team looks forward to providing the full range of Scouting programs, including outdoor adventures, as soon as the situation allows.

“In the meantime we will be partnering with our neighboring councils to offer digital, virtual programs and outdoor programs as circumstances allow. We look forward to sharing those details with you in the coming weeks.”

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AAA: We’re in the start of ‘100 Deadliest Days’ for teen drivers
Posted 27 May 2020 at 8:01 am

Press Release, AAA Western and Central New York

In New York State, 222 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days” from 2008 to 2018.

The “100 Deadliest Days” is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when fatal teen crashes increase dramatically. The number of people killed in crashes involving teen drivers, in New York, during rest of the year is 382 (for a total of 604 from 2008 to 2018).

The 222 people killed in summer months compared to 382 killed during non-summer months in N.Y., over the 10 years, is an increase of more than 70 percent. The 222 people killed in the summertime equates to a yearly average of 20.2 deaths.

Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days” over the ten-year span. That’s more than seven people a day each summer. This year’s combination of schools closed, activities curtailed, summer jobs canceled, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, could prove deadly as teens take to the road this summer. AAA recommends that parents model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them, too.

“The last decade of crash data shows that teens continue to be over-represented in crashes and summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers, ages 16-17 years old, are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.”

Due to their inexperience, teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashes. According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72% of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:

  • Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
  • Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
  • Texting (35%)
  • Red-light running (32%)
  • Aggressive driving (31%)
  • Drowsy driving (25%)
  • Driving without a seatbelt (17%)

“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA’s Director of State Relations. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But actions speak louder than words.  Remember to model good behavior because your teen won’t take your advice seriously if you don’t follow it yourself.”

To keep roads safe this summer, AAA encourages parents to:

  • Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
  • Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
  • Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
  • Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.

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Niagara County passes 1,000 cases of Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 7:32 am

LOCKPORT – Niagara County has passed 1,000 cases of Covid-19.

Niagara had 64 cases from Friday through Sunday to reach 1,000 cases. The Niagara County Health Department reported four more cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,004.

Covid-19 has caused the death of 59 people in the county. The Niagara County Health Department is reporting 636 people have recovered from the virus. There are currently 309 active cases with 293 isolating at home and 16 hospitalized.

The three Niagara towns that border Orleans have all had Covid-19 cases, including Somerset, 14; Hartland, 16; and Royalton, 15.

Niagara Falls has the most cases of any municipality in the county with 255, followed by 154 in Newfane.

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Q&A: ‘I have never seen anything like it,’ Orchard nursing home administrator says about Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 May 2020 at 7:58 pm

Martin MacKenzie leads facility that has quarantined residents, trying to slow the spread of virus

Photos by Tom Rivers: Martin MacKenzie, administrator of the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina, praised the staff at the nursing home in Medina for their dedication to the residents at the site.

MEDINA – Martin MacKenzie has worked the past four years as the administrator of the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina, a nursing home with 160 beds on Bates Road. The nursing home, formerly known as Orchard Manor, is owned by Personal Healthcare LLC.

“Personal has moved Heaven and Earth to keep us supplied with PPE,” MacKenzie said.

He previously worked as an administrator of the Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion, and also and nursing homes in Rochester, Williamsville and Warsaw.

MacKenzie started his career as a CNA and then a registered nurse before going into administration 10 years ago. He has been wearing nursing scrubs to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The following interview was conducted outside the nursing home last Wednesday, May 20. At that point, Orchard had three confirmed cases of Covid-19. After all the residents and staff were tested for Covid-19, the number of confirmed cases is now 31 with six deaths from the coronavirus.

MacKenzie said the staff, including the housekeeping department, has worked hard to tried to contain the virus.

Question: Before getting into administration, how long we you working as a nurse?

Answer: I’ve been a registered nurse since ’94. I was a CNA prior to that.

Martin MacKenzie said Orchard will be transparent with residents, their families and the community about Covid-19 cases at the nursing home.

Question: Is that an unusual trajectory to become a nursing home administrator, starting as a CNA?

Answer: I couldn’t even tell you. There are a few nursing home administrators who did start out as nurses. There are some who are social workers who are finishing up their master’s degrees and then take the state test for administrator.

Nursing has always been my passion.

Question: Is this your normal work attire, or is it just in the past two months?

Answer: No, this is a suit job, but when Covid came the staff was scared. Being a nurse, I’ve always tried to be hands-on with the patients.

Two things happened. For one, as a nurse, I understand infection control pretty well. So your clothing gets dirty. If I’m wearing a suit, with all the dry cleaners shut down, it just wasn’t feasible.

I told the staff and I meant this: I knew we were going to have some Covid patients, even before the directive came out that you had to. In my mind that’s what you do. That’s why we’re here.

So we set the building up where we quarantined one of our units. Anything beyond that point we considered contaminated.

A crew was set up with infection control. We were fortunate we had enough PPE. Orleans County Emergency Management helped us a lot. Our parent company really moved Heaven and Earth to keep us supplied.

Why I am wearing scrubs is I started going over there when we admitted our first Covid patient. Everybody was really scared. I insisted I would be the first one into the room. And since then the staff hasn’t dropped the ball.

Question: The first cases, they didn’t contract it here? You accepted them in?

Answer: We started off taking patients who were from the community. They were recovering from Covid in the hospital. They came in her for rehab services and everything. They were still quarantined on the floor for 14 days.

Question: You had to accept them or you had the option not to?

Answer: There is a lot of hype about that. My personal feeling is I know we would accept them anyways. I believe that is what a nursing home is, it serves the community. The directive came out and there was a lot of hype about this directive. The directive is not new. I’ve been around a long time. When HIV-AIDS came out, you couldn’t discriminate against that. Any disease you can’t discriminate from. That directive has always been there. You are going to take sick people.

Now this virus is a nightmare. Obviously it turned the world upside down. Should they have made nursing homes take them that weren’t ready for them? I’ll let somebody else judge that.

Question: With 160 beds, were you close to capacity when you started to quarantine people with Covid?

Answer: Some of the safety measures were put into place and we shuffled even before the first Western New York case showed up. The outside is where they are going to get this virus, right.

So we took one wing and emptied it out pretty much and moved all of the patients around and emptied out 12 beds. That is where any new admits come in this place and they are there for 14 days until we know they are not sick and then we move them out.

For the rest of the facility the danger I saw was dialysis patients and patients who went out to the doctors. So we moved those patients over to this side too to a separate wing, but on the same unit. Because I wanted to keep as little traffic as possible coming into the long-term side.

Question: So if they go to appointment when they come back they are in the two-week quarantine?

Answer: Yes, even if they go to the hospital for whatever reason.

The flag is lowered Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina out of respect for victims of Covid-19.

Question: How many beds is that total in the wing?

Answer: 40 beds. The rest of the building is 120 beds.

Question: That staff with the 40 beds can only stay on that side?

Answer: Exactly. We set it up pretty good. The staff all come in one door here. They all punch in. They get a mask everyday.

For the staff that works this unit, they don’t come off the unit. Dietary sends the food over. The staff exits out the one door. Once they go into that unit, nobody comes back out (to the long-term care side).

Question: I would think people would be nervous about working in that unit with the Covid patients or people in quarantine.

Answer: They are.

Question: Is that why you put on the scrubs and went in first?

Answer: You can’t sit behind a closed door and give orders to these folks. They are young moms. They are a brave crew. They led me as much as I led them. We didn’t mandate anybody. It was volunteers.

The therapy department – we have quite a therapy department – we also separated that. The main gym and the therapy department is in the center of the building. So we had four or five therapists who volunteered and therapy assistants and we turned the dining room over here into a mini therapy gym. We moved some equipment over there. We’re not using the dinign rooms right now, obviously.

Question: When you accepted Covid patients that didn’t show up publicly in the reports from the local health department? They weren’t considered your cases?

Answer: No. We accepted patients from the hospital who were recovering. We self quarantined them and did all of the steps.

We didn’t have anything we did not expect until a couple days ago when a patient on the long-term side tested positive.

Question: Is there much of a chance that could be a false positive test?

Answer: I personally I believe it could be. You know this whole Covid thing came on so quick. These tests are manufactured rapidly. Labs are overwhelmed. Could they be false, yes, but you still need to react to them.

Martin MacKenzie is pictured with Mary Luckman, the director of nursing who has overseen testing the staff.

Question: If you get a positive in the long-term care side, they would be shifted over to the Covid wing?

Answer: Yes. Anybody who spikes a fever, who is symptomatic we send them over to that side.

Question: And now you have to do the twice a week testing?

Answer: Yes, until they are cleared. We just started this. Some of the new mandations from Albany came out.

On Tuesday and Wednesday (May 12 and May 13) we swabbed every resident in the building. Most of the results (a week later) are still pending.

Question: Is that 150-160 residents?

Answer: The census is 142 today. So every resident was swabbed. Staff testing, we’re starting today (May 20) and that mandate is twice a week.  So we’ll do it today and I think the director of nursing wants to do it every Monday and Thrusday.

Question: Do you administer it yourself or does somebody come in?

Answer: It can be done both ways. I’ve heard of faciltiies where the state has showed up and helped them. We’re prepared ourselves. Our director of nursing, Mary Luckman, she is educated and took an online course and she and some of the supervisors are ready to start swabbing.

Question: So you get all the samples and they send them out to a lab?

Answer: Yeah.

Question: People do say Covid is just the flu. Can you talk about how you view it as a nursing home administrator?

Answer: Nursing homes took the most frail with comorbidities. They are very challenging. Flu season is always a nightmare in a nursing home. And actually some of the steps we set up here are from many, many years ago when I was in a nursing home as a nurse and we had a bad flu outbreak. One of the things we did here we separated dietary completely. I learned that from the flu outbreak and that was I think back in 2000.

Question: Were the nursing homes somewhat prepared because of past experiences with the flu?

Answer: I think we were, but this virus is different from anything we’ve ever seen. Orchard has been fortunate but I’m not a fool. I know we will start getting some more positive cases because it’s everywhere. We have two very attentive docs on top of it, and the staff has been absolutely incredible. So I’m very, very fortunate.

Comparing it to the flu, no, this thing is very, very aggressive. We communicate every day with other nursing homes and some of the homes that have had it really bad, it literally spreads like wildlife down a hall.

We have the PPE and the staff is very well trained and shows up. I love the staff. And another thing, Orchard is very fortunate to have one hell of a housekeeping staff. They are literally keeping us alive. I wish I could show you the building, Tom. It’s never been so clean.

‘To the family member who has a mom in here, the CNAs are the most important person. If anybody deserves credit it is the frontline staff, the aides, the nurses, the housekeepers that show up everyday.’

Question: When there is an outbreak in a nursing home, I think people assume it may not have been clean or the owners were cheap. But you are seeing top-rated 5-star facilities with outbreaks.

Answer: I can tell you wholeheartedly there isn’t one nursing facility in the whole country that invited this bear into its walls. Most of the staff in nursing homes are young. They are young moms with young families. They come in every day scared. Some of the things we shuffled around here, some of the staff change their clothing before they go home.

Question: I’ve tried to imagine how hard it would be at a nursing home where there are many deaths, and how hard it would be on the staff, especially the 20-year-olds. It would seem like you’re being sent to war. It must be traumatic.

Answer: Very much so. That’s a good word. It is not only here because you’re on your toes when you go to a local grocery store. But also the residents. These poor folks haven’t seen their families, shy of a window visit, in two months. Now for the last six weeks, with the masks, they haven’t even seen the staff smile at them. I’ve never seen anything like this. I go back to when AIDS first came out, and when MRSA first came out. I have never seen anything like it. And I know a lot of my staff have complimented me. But I will tell you honestly if it wasn’t for the staff here I would have cracked about a month ago.

The CNAs are always underrated. The administrator of the nursing home, I’m the most important. Well, that’s a façade. To the family member who has a mom in here, the CNAs are the most important person. If anybody deserves credit it is the frontline staff, the aides, the nurses, the housekeepers that show up everyday.

‘The residents of the facility have been so strong through this. They tell the crew everyday that it is going to be OK. We’re going to get through this.’

Question: How did you get drawn to this field? Why are you passionate about it?

Answer: It was strange. I grew in Niagara Falls in the ’70s. All I was going to do was work in a factory. I’m a big guy. But then all the factories closed. I’m actually a high school drop out.

When I was about 25, I realized the world was moving on. So I go to sign up for college. I was never the sharpest tack in the box. So I’m going to take an EKG course with heart monitors. But I had to get a GED first. So anyways I get into college and I do well, which kind of shocked everybody who knows me. They gave me a scholarship for a year free in nursing. They needed male nurses. It was in the very early ’90s, late ’80s. So I got into that and I did well.

The thing that kept me was personality, not that I have a good one or a bad one. I enjoy meeting and talking to the people that have worked under me.

Question: Was there something about nursing homes that appealed to you, rather than a hospital scene?

Answer: I worked in Erie County for a few years at ECMC. I worked at Erie County Home actually but we moonlighted at ECMC too. There was excitement at the hospital, but I think a lot is lost with the elderly. They have so much wisdom. The residents of the facility have been so strong through this. They tell the crew everyday that it is going to be OK. We’re going to get through this. They are very interesting to talk to.

When I graduated as an RN there was a girl I went to school with who worked at Oddfellows in Lockport. She said to come work here but I told her I didn’t want to work at a nursing home.

I started working there and never left long-term care. I like getting to know the people I work with.

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Health Department reports 2 more deaths from Covid-19 in county
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 May 2020 at 4:44 pm

Orleans also has 11 more recoveries from virus

Two more people have died from Covid-19 in Orleans County, the local health department is reporting this afternoon. Both people were residents of the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina, which has now had six of its residents pass away from Covid-19.

The two deaths bring the county’s total to 33 due to Covid-19, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments is reporting this afternoon.

Orleans County has five more new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the county’s total to 208.

Of the five new cases, one resides in Ridgeway, one in Yates, one in Shelby and one in Albion. The other new case is a resident of Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, which has now had 31 residents test positive.

Of the new positive cases in the county, one individual is in the 20s, one in the 30s, another in the 40s, one in the 60s and the one in the 80s.

None of the new positive cases were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive, the Health Department said.

Of the previous cases in the community, 11 more people have recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 70.

There are 20 people currently hospitalized from Orleans County due to Covid-19.

Genesee County has one new positive case of Covid-19, for 181 cases. The new  confirmed case is a person who lives in Batavia who is in the 50s. The person was not on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.

Genesee has had four more recoveries, bringing the total to 116 who have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.

In Genesee, two of the active positive cases are hospitalized.

Click here to view the online map of confirmed cases in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. That map shows there are 13 active cases in Orleans in the community (not counting residents of facilities), 10 in Genesee and three in Wyoming.

More information from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments:

The facility breakdown is only showing the total positive cases from those facilities from where there was a positive swab for Covid-19. Facilities will be added if there is a positive case of Covid-19.

Because the local health departments don’t follow the positive cases for facilities, we cannot report any recoveries from the facilities with positive cases of Covid-19. If a regulated facility from either of the counties is not listed, there are no positive cases of Covid-19. The local health departments do not have oversight with many regulated facilities, which may include nursing homes, correctional facilities, hospitals, etc.

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NY announces winners of mask ad contest in a close vote
Posted 26 May 2020 at 3:54 pm

“We Heart New York” was created by Bunny Lake Films.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the winners of the Wear a Mask New York Ad Contest – “We Heart New York” created by Bunny Lake Films and “You Can Still Smile” by Natalia Bougadellis and Emory Parker. Both winning videos will run as public service announcements and can be viewed by clicking here.

The contest, which was launched by the Governor on May 5th and overseen by his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, asked New Yorkers to create and share a video explaining why New Yorkers should wear a mask in public. The state collected more than 600 video submissions from across the state, and there were 186,000 votes cast in the contest.

(Editor’s note: There were 96,332 votes for the first and second place finishers for only a 502-vote differential. The governor decided today, with such a close vote, they would both run as public service announcements.)

“You Can Still Smile” was made by Natalia Bougadellis and Emory Parker.

“We launched the Wear A Mask New York contest to help spread the word about the importance of wearing a mask, and frankly this contest generated much more energy and excitement than I even anticipated,” Governor Cuomo said. “The tremendous level of participation demonstrates that people understand that a mask can be the difference between life and death. This is about their lives and this is about their community, and they’re engaged — because they are New York tough, smart, united, disciplined and loving.”

“We asked New Yorkers to create ads about the importance of wearing a mask in public, and we received over 600 video submissions from across the state,” Mariah Kennedy Cuomo said. “Congratulations to our winners and thank you to everyone who submitted ads, who voted, who shared ads, and helped spread this important message that it’s absolutely critical to wear a mask in public. And we’ll be continuing to reach out to New Yorkers for help in spreading the message about how we can get through this together because New Yorkers are clearly ready, willing and able to help.”

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