KINDERHOOK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Families told NEWS10 they were shocked and angry to learn The Grand at Barnwell tried shipping patients out of their nursing and rehab home Monday without their consent. The Town of Kinderhook’s supervisor says she saw NEWS10’s coverage Tuesday, and was equally horrified.
“When I watched the news and saw that families didn’t even know that they were being moved out of there, that was appalling. A family member was being dropped off at a door, and they were not even told that their loved one is there, with no help whatsoever, that’s appalling. That’s not right,” says Town Supervisor Patsy Leader.
She says she decided at that moment she needed to let the management staff at Barnwell know that Kinderhook will not stand for these practices. Leader released a statement Thursday asking that New York State intervene.
“We need the state to come down and test people, get nursing in here, cleaning it, and making sure that the residents are properly taken care of,” she says to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
She says she’s also talked to Barnwell staff who are both bogged down and scared to speak up.
“There’s only one nurse for one floor, from what I’m told. That’s a lot for 30 beds. One employee told me she goes home at night, puts her hands in her face, and cries,” Leader says.
“A lot of these employees have worked there for years, 30 years or more for some of them. It’s not that they are not dedicated, that’s not it. They are frustrated, tired, their hands are tied, and they don’t want to lose their jobs. They love their jobs,” she goes on to explain.
The Grand now has 118 COVID positive patients and 32 sick staff members. Tuesday, NEWS10 investigated and confirmed reports that 37 negative patients were moved to other facilities in The Grand Healthcare System in both Rome and Long Island.
One Schenectady woman, Tammy Nunez, says the fact that she was on the phone with her father Sunday night was the only way she knew to stop the nursing home sending him away.
“They came in with forms, and he didn’t understand so he called me. So then when they came in a second time to get him to sign, I said give the phone to her, and I demanded an explanation,” Nunez says. “It wasn’t until 7 a.m. the next morning that the social worker called me, and I said absolutely not, you’re not sending him more than 3 hours away.”
“They’re willy nilly making decisions on people’s lives!” she exclaimed in a video call.
We spoke with a representative for the parent company, The Grand Healthcare System, on Tuesday to ask how they’re handling care and contacting families at Barnwell. He claimed all Department of Health guidelines are being followed and residents were only transferred out of Barnwell for their safety.
The representative also said all appropriate family members had been contacted before the patients were shipped out.
However, Sara Daigle says that’s a downright lie. She says she didn’t find out her dad was in a Long Island facility until they called Monday — when he was already there.
“He said your father was transferred from the facility in Valatie, New York to our facility and he’s been here about 45 minutes to an hour. My first reaction was anger. I was very angry,” Daigle says.
She says she immediately hung up the phone and called administrators at The Grand at Barnwell. She says the man she spoke to at first claimed the staff had already called, but were unable to reach her.
“I said sir, that’s not true. I am the main person of contact for my father, because I’m the easiest person to get a hold of. My phone did not ring once, and even then, why not leave a message?” Daigle explains.
She then says the man on the phone changed his story, claiming the phone number in the computer system was incorrect.
“I told him sir, I don’t really think that’s true either, because when [my father] pulls out his feeding tube, nobody has a problem calling me then,” she goes on.
Daigle says her father had been a resident at The Grand at Barnwell for four years. She says he was initially sent for rehab after a slip and fall on some ice. However, during his stay, he suffered a major stroke that paralyzed his esophagus. She says he is now non-verbal, has a feeding tube and is wheelchair bound.
“I was to the point that I was so upset I was shaking. He’s got power of attorney and health proxies for a reason. Clearly he’s not able to make those decisions,” she says of the sudden transfer.
Not only was she furious the decision was made without consent, she’s also upset about where The Grand chose to put her dad.
“You put my father in the epicenter of everything that’s going on, and you’re putting a death sentence on his back because he is 72 years old, he does have underlying health issues, and if he was to catch this, he may not come back from that,” Daigle says.
When NEWS10 first started inquiry into The Grand at Barnwell on May 4, secretaries directed us to the voicemail of Administrator Issac Stilman. Since then, all phone calls have been rejected or answered and cut off.
NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton called both Stilman and corporate representative Jay Lawrence again Thursday for clarification. Lawrence later sent a statement that repeats statements made Tuesday. It reads, in part:
“…The facility has and continues to communicate updates and pertinent information daily, or more, with all residents, family members, representatives and/or next of kin via telephone, email and mail.
The facility is in complete compliance will all legislative directives, maintains excellence in clinical care and provides the very best quality of life for its residents under the circumstances.”
However, Daigle claims this is yet another lie. She says since the incident Monday, she’s received regular calls from The Grand Healthcare System Senior Vice President Joe Yurowitz, and he admits a very different story.
“I have phone records where the senior vice president called me several times and admitted to me over the phone that somebody dropped the ball and that nobody called me. So now people under you are making statements that every person was called, and that is not true at all,” she says.
She also adds in light of these “new lies”, she’s not confident she can forgive The Grand Healthcare System.
“You can say you’re sorry until you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day it does not make it okay that 37 residents were transferred from this facility, and I know I’m not the only one who wasn’t contacted,” Daigle says.
She adds the entire experience as been terrifying and weighs heavily on her, her mother, and brother.
“I spent about three hours uncontrollably crying, just sobbing. It breaks my heart that I feel like I have failed my father, which I know that’s not true, but you still get that feeling of I wish I could’ve done more,” she says.
Supervisor Leader says she lays the responsibility squarely at the corporate management’s feet.
“They want to make sure that they get paid. Well you should get paid for a service that you do good, and you do well to the best of your ability, and they’re not doing that,” she says.
“I wouldn’t want this done to my family. I’m sure they wouldn’t want this done to their family. So why are they doing it?” she asks.
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