Picketers were outside nursing home in Albion where 26 have died from Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 3:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – About a dozen picketers were outside The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion today for about an hour.

They said they wanted to show support for the staff and residents at a nursing home where 26 people have died from Covid-19. The Villages has had 88 of its residents test positive for Covid-19.

Picketers faulted management of the facility for not providing staff with enough personal protective equipment (gowns, masks, N-95 respirators) to prevent workers from becoming infected and spreading the virus.

Richard Brakenbury holds a sign that says, “I Miss My Wife” during the picket. His wife of 61 years, Connie Brakenbury, died on May 12. The family said she contracted Covid-19 at The Villages while in the rehab section. She was trying to build back her strength after being dehydrated and feeling weak. She was at The Villages for 20 days.

Mr. Brakenbury said his wife was put in a room with someone who was Covid-19 positive.

The facility has had nearly all of its residents test positive for Covid-19. Those that are negative have recently been moved to a sister facility in Williamsville that is also owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC.

The nursing home in Albion used to be owned by the county. It was sold for $7.8 million on Feb. 6, 2014 to Comprehensive.

Angelo and Ondrea Pate were among the picketers today. Connie Brakenbury is Mrs. Pate’s mother.

Ondrea Pate worked 7 years as an LPN at The Villages. She picketed several times in 2013 when the county announced it would be selling the facility due to the deficits that topped $2 million.

Pate worried then that privatization would result in frequent staff turnover and less accountability to the community.

She left 18 months after the sale, became an registered nurse and now works in Brockport.

The management at The Villages has done a poor job communicating with the community about what’s going on inside the nursing home, and sharing a strategy to slow the spread of the virus and save residents’ lives, Pate said.

She started an online petition for a change in the director of nursing. That petition has 1,400 supporters.

Pate said the deaths were unnecessary if the proper precautions were taken.

“It should never have happened,” she said about the high loss of life. “It’s heart-breaking.”

Amanda Dixon, a former employee who worked in human resources, was among the picketers today.

The State Attorney General’s Office, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Orleans County District Attorney’s Office, and State Department of Health are all investigating how The Villages has responded to Covid-19.

The Villages passed a state DOH inspection on April 29, but in a May 9 inspection the facility was cited for immediate jeopardy, where noncompliance puts residents in serious harm, according to a May 27 article in The Buffalo News.

The Villages took action and the immediate jeopardy was lifted, although the state DOH continues to closely monitor the nursing home, The Buffalo News reported.

Pate wants a leadership change at The Villages, particularly with the director of nursing.

She hopes the picket today, across the street from the nursing home, sent a message to staff and residents that community members are pushing for a safer nursing home.

“We want to support the residents and staff and show them we are here for them,” Pate said. “We want to make it better.”

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