Hawley urges unannounced inspection, ‘full-scale investigation’ into The Villages

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 May 2020 at 9:07 am

Assemblyman tells DOH commissioner that staff at Albion nursing home are demoralized

ALBION — State Assemblyman Steve Hawley has sent a second letter to the state public health commissioner, urging “an immediate and full-scale investigation” of The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion, where 14 residents have died from Covid-19 and 54 have tested virus.

“Your attention to this urgent matter is greatly needed and appreciated,” Hawley wrote on Monday in a letter to Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner of the State Department of Health.

Hawley on Friday sent his first letter to Zucker, calling for an investigation into The Villages. That day the Orleans County Legislature also asked for an investigation into the facility by Attorney General Letitia James and the Department of Health, led by Howard Zucker.

The Department of Health regulates the 120-bed facility in Albion, as well as other nursing homes in the state. The DOH recently inspected The Villages and it was deemed in compliance. However, The Villages was given advance notice of the inspection. Hawley urged Zucker to have the DOH do an unannounced inspection.

Hawley said he continues to hear concerns from community members about The Villages.

He tells Zucker that staffing “is depleted and demoralized, so much so, that the parent company, CHMS Group, has contracted and paid for the relocation of six aides from the state of Louisiana, arguably one of the hot sports in America.”

Hawley also said “a vicious fist fight” broke out between two staff members in front of residents in the Canal Wing, a further example of the demoralized staff.

Hawley asks Zucker and DOH to look into allegations that testing swabs for six residents in the dementia wing were thrown out by administration. That wing doesn’t have any confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Hawley says he has been told rooms are not being properly sanitized after test results come back that a resident is positive for Covid-19. The assemblyman says he was told personal protective equipment (N-95 masks, gowns and gloves) are locked in the director of nursing’s office and only released when there is a DOH inspection. A table with thermometers for testing employees when they come to work also is left unmanned until a known inspection occurs, Hawley says in his letter.

Hawley also said The Villages is underreporting the cases on the HERDS Report, data on Covid-cases each nursing home submits daily to the DOH. In that report, The Villages says there are 38 Covid-19 cases, instead of the 54 reported by the Health Department in Orleans County.

“The allegations cast further doubt upon the safety of the residents and staff, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic,” Hawley writes in his letter.

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