Loved ones calling for transparency following a spike in COVID-19 cases at Barnwell Nursing Home

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VALATIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Columbia County Health Department is reporting that a fourth resident has died from COVID-19 at The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell. Those with loved ones living there are now expressing their frustrations with the lack of transparency.

“At this point, it’s just getting aggravating, ya know,” said James Parker.

Parker’s 96-year-old mother is a temporary resident there, and within the last week or so, he said he started reading and hearing about the outbreak at the facility. But to this day, he told NEWS10 ABC he has not been alerted to the full extent of the issue by the staff.

Each day he said he gets a pre-recorded message from the administrator.

“Yesterday [Thursday], he [administrator] said there’s no new cases reported in the Barnwell facility and we’re doing our best to flatten the curve,” said Parker.

However, according to the Columbia County Health Department, there were new cases on Thursday. The totals increased to 117 residents (out of a total of 216 residents) and 28 staff members. Now, one of those positive cases is Parker’s mother.

“Seven cases to 70 in seven days. Then it went from 70 to 117 in two days. They’re not being square with me. They have a crisis down there, and they’re making it sound like, as of yesterday, that everything is fine,” said Parker.

Columbia County Health Director Jack Maab told NEWS10 Barnwell has been a little bit behind in their tally of confirmed cases compared to what the health department has documented.

“This is an extraordinary event for any kind of a facility to have this kind of massive testing going on, and I think maybe they’re just a little bit behind on catching up on their list,” said Maab.

NEWS10 has reached out to both the facility’s administrator as well as their corporate offices for comment and have not heard back. 

Maab said he was able to speak with someone from corporate Friday morning.

“I think that they are doing everything they can to try to mitigate this. This is a very opportunistic, a very successful virus, if you will, in terms of its ability to move through a population. The Governor has consistently said if you test, you get more positives,” said Maab.

“I know they’re in a terrible predicament, but it would be nice if there was a little more transparency,” said Parker.

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