When Mary Ann Sudlow showed up at Long Island Jewish Medical Center one day in late April, she was dehydrated and her kidneys were failing. She had tested positive for the new coronavirus earlier that day at the rehabilitation center next door, where she was recovering from a hip replacement.
Six weeks before she ended up in a hospital ICU, the 85-year-old was seemingly healthy and living on her own. Then it became painful to walk. She landed in the operating room for surgery to replace her hip, then, on March 30, she moved to the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation to recover.
What Sudlow's family didn't know was that, four days prior, Parker had reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Sudlow tested positive for the virus just under a month after arriving at Parker.
She was immediately transferred to Long Island Jewish, which is next to Parker but run independently. There, ICU doctors told her family it was only a matter of time. She died three days later.
Interviews with the families of four current or recent Parker residents, including Sudlow, paint a picture of a facility under siege amid the coronavirus pandemic, with too few protective measures, not enough health care workers and little-to-no communication about what's going on inside — claims the facility disputes.
To Sudlow's son, Michael, what happened can be summed up by a text message he got one day from his brother: "The nursing home is who killed mom."