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5 residents of Hamburg adult care facility died from Covid-19 in hospitals

Five people who tested positive for Covid-19 at a Hamburg adult care facility died after they were transferred to hospitals, according to the facility’s administrator.

The Courtyards, an assisted living center, has had 35 residents testing positive for the virus since April 15, according to Joan Gibbens, the administrator.

The outbreak at The Courtyards has flown under the public radar because it and other adult care facilities transfer acutely ill residents to hospitals for treatment.

And while nursing homes have been hit hard by Covid-19, there has been only one death related to the coronavirus at the less regulated adult care facilities in all of upstate New York. That death occurred at Brompton Heights in Williamsville, according to state Health Department records.

A spokesman for Brompton Heights said the individual who died was 100 years old and asymptomatic. Though the State Health Department lists the death as caused by Covid-19, the spokesman said the man's death certificate cites natural causes from other underlying medical conditions.

By contrast, the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, which provide a higher level of care, has been a significant part of the overall death totals for both Erie and Niagara counties.

In Erie County, the latest figures from the state Health Department show 176 confirmed or presumed deaths in nursing homes from the virus, as of Wednesday. Niagara County has 33 confirmed or suspected deaths in nursing homes.

“Adult care facilities are required to send individuals who are ill with Covid-19 or any acute illness to a hospital,” said Nancy Leveille, director of special projects and education development at the New York State Health Facilities Association. “Adult care facilities are more of a social model. They are not there to provide acute care services.”

Adult care facilities include assisted living centers, which provide limited medical services to residents, and adult homes, which are group homes for five or more adults who need personal care but not medical services.

While nursing homes have received intense scrutiny because of the high number of deaths from the virus among their residents, adult care facilities have seen less public attention during the pandemic.

The New York State Health Department has not released data on the number of adult care facility residents who have tested positive for Covid-19. That, however, does not mean the virus has spared residents in those facilities.

The Buffalo News obtained a copy of the Wednesday update on Covid-19 at The Courtyards Adult Care Facility in Hamburg, which illustrates how the virus has impacted residents. In addition to the deaths:

  • Thirty-five residents have tested positive for the virus since April 15.
  • Twenty-two residents have been transferred to hospitals or rehabilitation units at nursing homes.
  • Eight residents who have tested positive but show no symptoms of the virus are in quarantine in their rooms at the adult care facility.
  • Six residents have tested negative since Tuesday.

“The numbers have grown at an alarming rate based on the fact that we are performing more testing," Gibbens said in the update.

Gibbens also said she has informed the State Health Department that the facility’s goal is to test every resident and that test kits are being secured from Quest Diagnostics. There are currently 90 residents in the 133-bed facility.

“The facility has hired a clinical tech to perform these tests,” Gibbens said, adding that they are also putting together a plan to perform tests twice a week on staff members in accordance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order.

In addition, she said the staff is closely monitoring the health of all residents, which includes taking residents’ temperatures on all three shifts.

“We are making sure we are sending our residents out when they need medical treatment to a hospital. That’s why we have had no Covid-19 deaths,” Gibbens said in an interview Thursday with The News.

She said she was willing to discuss how Covid-19 has impacted her facility because she recognizes the importance of being transparent in this crisis.

Gibbens pointed out that the number of coronavirus deaths involving residents may be impacted by their medical orders for life-sustaining treatment that were put in place long before anyone ever imaged there would be a pandemic.

“In some of these deaths, the residents wanted comfort care only and the hospitals were required to provide that,” she said. “But in the face of the pandemic, I can see changes in future that would address pandemics and different opportunities for treatment on these medical orders.”

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