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Lawmaker Ortt calls for state to intervene at Newfane Rehab

A Newfane nursing home should have its license revoked and the National Guard should be deployed to the facility, a state lawmaker said.

State Sen. Robert Ortt on Friday sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo requesting the state intervene at Newfane Rehabilitation and Health Center, where 17 residents have died from Covid-19 and seven other deaths are presumed to be related to the disease, according to state Department of Health figures as of Friday.

"I recognize the severity of these measures, and I do not take calling for them lightly," wrote the Republican from North Tonawanda. "However, given the grave circumstances and the lack of responsiveness and compliance from Newfane administration, I believe these measures are necessary to protect the vulnerable residents and dedicated staff at Newfane."

In a release, Newfane Rehab said the state found no deficiencies during either of two inspections conducted earlier this month and added the facility does not have any active Covid-19 cases.

"I have reached out to the senator so I can provide him with any information he needs," Julie Bargnesi, an attorney for the nursing home, said Saturday in an email to The News. "It is our goal to be completely transparent."

"Newfane is pleased to announce that it has no active cases of Covid-19 infection at the present time," the facility said in its release. "All residents that had previously tested positive for Covid-19 have now resolved, meaning that those residents have been symptom free for 14 days following the positive result. Per New York State Department of Health, those residents remain on precautions but are not actively infected with the virus."

The facility has come under scrutiny for the number of residents who died from Covid-19.

Ortt called for the National Guard to send medical personnel to "provide adequate staffing and ensure compliance with all public health regulations and guidelines."

The state sent a doctor and nurse from Erie County Medical Center who specialize in infectious diseases to analyze the facility's operations on May 15, Bargnesi said.

"They reported their results directly to the Department of Health, and Newfane was orally advised that there were no problems or issues identified," Bargnesi said in her email.

State officials conducted inspections of the facility on May 8 and May 13 to assess infection control and prevention measures related to Covid-19, according to state documents.

Letters from regulators to the nursing home following both inspections said the facility was "in substantial compliance" with state and federal requirements.

No deficiencies were found in the most recent inspection, a state Health Department spokesman said. Newfane Rehab said the state found no deficiencies in the first inspection, either.

State officials suggested changes to the facility's infection control process after the first inspection, Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton told the County Legislature earlier this month.


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