Five Erie County nursing homes rank in the top 25 in New York State for their number of residents with confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a Buffalo News review of federal data.
Two of the five – Father Baker Manor in Orchard Park and Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Lancaster – had outbreaks early in the pandemic but were at the top of the list because their reported numbers include Covid-19 patients from other nursing homes.
Also in the top 25 are Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in East Aurora; Garden Gate Health Care Facility in Cheektowaga; and Beechwood Homes in Getzville. They each reported 112 or more total confirmed Covid-19 cases among residents at their facilities through Nov. 15, the latest data available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Father Baker Manor, with 242 residents who have tested positive, had the most confirmed Covid-19 cases among all nursing homes statewide, according to the data. But only 103 of the 242 were Father Baker residents, according to Catholic Health, the facility's owner. The majority were from a second nursing home that Catholic Health opened to house Covid patients. It operated under Father Baker Manor’s license, so its cases were counted as part of Father Baker’s total.
Harris Hill in May was turned into a Covid-only facility.
Covid-19 at nursing homes across the country – including 617 across New York State and 70 in Western New York – is being monitored weekly by the federal agency, which in May began requiring nursing homes to report coronavirus data.
There were 14,982 nursing home residents statewide who had the virus; another 7,786 were suspected to have contracted Covid-19. In Western New York, 1,963 nursing home residents were confirmed with Covid-19, 13% of all confirmed nursing home cases in the state.
The 299 suspected cases of Covid-19 in Western New York nursing homes represented 3.8% of all suspected cases in long-term care facilities statewide.
New York State had an average of 169 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 1,000 nursing home residents – the eighth lowest rate in the nation.
A News examination of the data also found:
• Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in East Aurora had the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Western New York and the 12th highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the state, with 62. Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in New York City had the most Covid-19 deaths in the state through Nov. 15, with 95. Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Lancaster was at No. 22, with 51 residents who died of Covid-19.
• More than 120 facilities in the state reported that they had no confirmed Covid-19 cases since May, including 14 nursing homes in Western New York. Some of them indicated they had suspected cases, however.
• Terrace View Long Term Care Facility in Buffalo had 83 “suspected” cases of Covid-19, the most of any nursing home in Western New York. Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in New York City had 281 suspected cases, the most in the state. Upper East Side also had 128 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
• Beechwood Homes in Getzville had the most confirmed staff cases in Western New York, with 104, tied for 14th highest total in the state. Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation was 42nd in the state, with 81 confirmed staff cases. Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehab Center in Staten Island had the most staff in the state who tested positive, with 166.
• Across the state, 58 nursing home staff have died from Covid-19, including one employee of McAuley Residence in Kenmore, the only nursing home in Western New York to report a staff death.
Father Baker Manor
Father Baker Manor, a five-star rated facility, had the most residents with confirmed Covid-19 cases by far in the state, with 43 more than Bishop Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Syracuse, which was second with 199 confirmed cases. Bridgewater Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Binghamton was third with 187 confirmed cases.
An outbreak of coronavirus cases was detected at Father Baker Manor in early April, when 41 residents and 25 employees tested positive. But the bulk of the 242 cases attributed to Father Baker Manor in the federal data happened at the St. Joseph Post-Acute Center, a former Absolut nursing home that Catholic Health in April converted into short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing care for Covid-19 patients discharged from Catholic Health hospitals but unable to return safely home or to other community-based living facilities.
Catholic Health signed a lease with Absolut Care for the 40,000 square-foot Orchard Park facility, which closed in 2019, and partnered with McGuire Group, which is managing day-to-day operations of the site.
St. Joseph Post-Acute Center doesn’t have its own state license. Instead, New York State officials allowed the site to open quickly by operating under the license granted to Father Baker Manor. That means Father Baker Manor must report data from St. Joseph Post-Acute Center as its own to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
A Catholic Health spokeswoman said Father Baker Manor alone has had 103 Covid-19 cases, and none since June. The rest of the cases are from the St. Joseph Post-Acute Center, she said.
“We’ve been transparent from the beginning. We had a lot of positive cases at Father Baker Manor,” said JoAnn Cavanaugh, the spokeswoman. “There were several stories. We did a press release. We had a press conference.”
Harris Hill nursing home
In a similar vein to what Catholic Health did, McGuire Group converted its Harris Hill Nursing Facility in May into a residence for patients who have Covid-19.
McGuire has been transferring Covid-positive residents in five other McGuire-run nursing homes to Harris Hill, a five-star rated facility with 192 beds. It has reported 147 residents with Covid-19 since May – eighth most in the state – including 23 confirmed cases in the week ending Nov. 15.
Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehab in East Aurora had the sixth most confirmed cases in the state, with 166.
The parameters that facilities used to report data makes comparisons among nursing homes difficult.
While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services required nursing homes to report from May 8 forward, it also gave nursing homes the option to report Covid-19 cases going back to Jan. 1.
A spokesman for Absolut has said that the facility reported back to Jan. 1, which would have included months in which coronavirus cases across Western New York were growing at a rapid pace. It’s not clear how many other nursing homes chose that option or to report only from May 8 forward.