County Legislature asks state to investigate The Villages, which now has 13 deaths from Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2020 at 5:04 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center has had 49 residents test positive for Covid-19, and 13 residents die after contracting the virus.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature is asking the state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health to do a formal investigation of The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Facility.

The site in Albion, a 120-bed nursing home and rehab center, has suffered 13 deaths from Covid-19 and 49 residents have tested positive.

Lynne Johnson, County Legislature chairwoman, said the Legislature continues to receive numerous calls from the community with concern about the facility.

“We have nothing but praise for the healthcare workers in the facility,” Johnson said this afternoon.

The Villages represents more than half of the Covid-19 cases in the county, 49 out of 96.

Johnson said the Legislature is being “proactive” in calling on the investigation from Attorney General Letitia James and the Department of Health, led by Howard Zucker.

Paul Pettit, director of Public Health in Orleans and Genesee counties, said the local health department has supplied The Villages with personal protective equipment and testing kits. That testing showed some employees tested positive for Covid-19 and were asymptomatic, and likely spread the virus when they didn’t have any symptoms.

The local Health Department doesn’t have jurisdiction in regulating the nursing home. That falls to the State DOH.

Pettit said the local Health Department will continue to try to be a resource to The Villages and help develop a strategy to keep residents and staff safe.

Pettit announced this afternoon that two more residents of the nursing home have died, bringing the total to 13. Both of those residents were over age 65.

“Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those we are losing,” Pettit said.

“These are our family, our friends and neighbors. These losses hit us all close to home.”

Pettit said The Villages isn’t alone in the state in having the virus spread to many residents, causing several deaths.

“It’s just The Villages’ issue,” Pettit said. “There are many, many nursing homes around the state with significant outbreaks.”

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, also is asking for a state investigation into the deaths at The Villages. Hawley called it an “urgent matter.” He sent a letter today to Howard Zucker, commissioner of the State Department of Health.

“I am asking for an immediate and full-scale investigation of The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center,” Hawley writes in the letter.

“We must ensure that residents and staff of these homes receive the care, respect and comfort they deserve.  We must do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our community at this time.”

The facility on Route 31 used to be owned by the county. It was sold for $7.8 million on Feb. 6, 2014 to Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC, a company from downstate New York.

Orleans Hub has reached out to the administration at The Villages for a comment about how the facility is responding to the crisis, but hasn’t received a call back.

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