Workers at a 250-bed state-run veterans nursing home in Queens are circulating a list naming nearly 50 residents who died during the coronavirus crisis — an act of defiance and remembrance ahead of Memorial Day.
The list identifies 48 veterans or spouses of veterans who passed away between March 27 and April 29 at the New York State Veterans Home in St. Albans, one of five veterans nursing homes operated directly by the state Department of Health.
Staff members, who served many of the fallen veterans for years, have been critical of facility administrators for their handling of the outbreak — and accuse them of failing to publicly account for the full scope of fatalities.
“In memory of our beloved veterans,” reads the one-page list. “These veterans deserve justice!!”
A Queens veterans nursing home run by the state Department of Health has been violating protocols set by the department itself that are intended to keep patients and staff safe from coronavirus, multiple staffers told THE CITY.
This includes not separating roommates when only one was suspected of having COVID-19, and failing to isolate those infected in a separate section of the facility with a dedicated team of staff members.
And like their counterparts at private nursing homes, workers at the 250-bed New York State Veterans’ Home in St. Albans say protective gear has been in short supply and at times absent — with recommended N95 masks handed out just once in late March and expected to last for weeks.
Only last week were supplies replenished, they said.
Meanwhile, the staffers say, the home had suffered resident deaths totaling at least twice or even three times the official tally of 19 that was publicly reported through May 1— essentially by the state Department of Health to itself.
“There was just no effort to try to even maintain any kind of minimizing transmission or anything,” said one staffer. “Nobody took it seriously.”
State Department of Health officials countered that the home has been a “leader in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic” — and that the agency is ensuring all of its coronavirus guidelines are followed.
On Tuesday, the health department released new and more detailed statistics on coronavirus fatalities in individual nursing homes across the state. They showed nine confirmed COVID fatalities at the Queens veterans’ home and another 24 presumed to be caused by the virus.