The coronavirus has found fertile grounds in Long Island nursing homes, infecting residents and staff alike, including at one of the hardest hit — A. Holly Patterson Extended Care in Uniondale.
A motorcade, including police cruisers with lights flashing and sirens blaring, drove through the facility's parking lot Monday in an homage to the staff, dubbed “Project Say Thank You.”
Staff at the facility waited outside for the motorcade, dressed from head to toe in full protective equipment. Some pulled out cellphones to document the appreciative display.
Karen McGlynn, director of nursing at the facility, said the motorcade helped lift staff members' spirits.
“It’s going to do a tremendous amount for the morale,” she said. “It’s just the very tiny little things that make them feel so great. They come to work while everybody else is staying home, sequestered and quarantined. They’re coming to work, working hard. … This gives them the strength to get through the next week.”
The event was organized by Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) and members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
“Nassau County’s essential workers and medical professionals have shown tremendous bravery throughout our region’s ongoing fight against COVID-19," Abrahams said in a statement. "I was honored to have partnered with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nassau Alumnae Chapter to recognize the staff at A. Holly Patterson Extended Care and celebrate their dedication to our residents.”
Earlier this month, the nursing home had 24 residents test positive and 17 die from the coronavirus, according to Dr. Anthony Boutin, interim president and chief executive of Nassau University Medical Center, which operates the facility. Three of those residents died at A. Holly Patterson while 14 died at NUMC. An aide at the nursing home also died from the virus this month while about 80 staffers tested positive or were home sick, Newsday reported at the time.
A high percentage of its residents are minority and low-income, with a host of preexisting medical conditions that may have contributed to the number of those falling ill, an official has said.
McGlynn did not have updated figures Monday for the number of residents and staff sickened by the coronavirus. However, she said, residents are quarantined in their rooms and staff who are taking care of them are in full protective equipment, including, gowns, N-95 masks, face shields and head coverings.
Because so many staff members were infected — although some returned to the nursing home after recovering — their colleagues are frequently working double-shifts, McGlynn said.
“They are working eight hours, 16 hours. They’re not getting a break to sit down and have coffee," she said. "They are working incredibly, incredibly hard."
Since A. Holly Patterson is a nursing home, not a hospital, some staff members have sometimes felt forgotten during the pandemic, McGlynn said. But that was not the case Monday.
“This made them feel that the community, their neighbors … everybody sees what they’re doing over and above making sure that these frail, elderly people are taken care of every single day,” McGlynn said.