The state Friday released a list of 22 Long Island nursing homes or assisted living centers where 271 residents have died from the coronavirus, but experts criticized the data as incomplete, accounting only for fatalities that occurred inside those buildings or at locations where five or more people died.
Statewide, the list cites a total of 1,135 nursing home or assisted living center deaths inside 72 facilities — roughly one-third of the 3,060 deaths of adult-care residents reported by the state Wednesday.
The list, which exempts resident deaths that occurred in hospitals, appears to have allowed nursing homes that have publicly acknowledged more than 20 deaths — including A. Holly Patterson Extended Care in Uniondale and the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook — to avoid inclusion.
Identifying deaths that occurred only inside a facility does not provide enough information about what's taking place inside facilities that are locked down to visitors, said Richard Mollot of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, an advocacy group for nursing home residents.
“It’s not really providing the information that we’re most concerned about, which is 'what is the extent of the outbreak,' not 'what is the extent of the deaths inside a facility itself,' ” he said.
The list identifies 128 deaths at 11 Nassau nursing homes or assisted living facilities and 143 deaths at 11 such facilities in Suffolk. Those numbers are far fewer than the county-by-county fatality totals the state released Wednesday, when it reported 240 deaths of nursing home or assisted living residents in Nassau and 227 in Suffolk.
Carillon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a 315-bed Huntington facility, had the most reported deaths of any Long Island facility with 29, while the 150-bed Long Beach Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had the most in Nassau with 22.
"Nursing home residents often have multiple chronic diseases or conditions, often related to the aging process," according to a statement issued by a spokesman for both facilities. "As such, nursing home residents are the most susceptible to the COVID-19 virus and other attendant medical complications that may contribute to death."
At his daily press briefing Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state was relying on the elder care facilities to provide accurate data. "We only know what they tell us, right?” Cuomo said.
The state did not identify facilities with fewer than five deaths out of privacy concerns, according to Jim Malatras, a member of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force.
“This data is reported directly from the nursing home themselves,” he said, adding that state health officials “circle back” to nursing homes daily for updated information.
The state's action Friday comes as family members tell Newsday they are struggling to obtain information from nursing homes and similar facilities that have been closed to visitors for a month.
Newsday this week called 174 nursing homes and assisted living facilities on Long Island; 152 declined to provide data about positive cases or deaths, or failed to respond.
Cuomo Friday ordered nursing homes and assisted-living centers to notify families within 24 hours of any resident testing positive or dying from COVID-19. Previously, state regulations mandated that facilities notify family of any significant changes in their relative’s health condition.
Facilities must now contact the relatives of every resident — not just the family of those who test positive — if the virus appears in a nursing home or assisted living facility, according to the directive.
The state's attempt to place a number on the fatalities among nursing home residents is complicated by a March 21 Health Department advisory that effectively has halted testing for the virus in many facilities. The guidance states that residents with acute respiratory illness should be presumed to have COVID-19 and that testing "is no longer necessary and should not delay additional infection control actions."
Until now, information about outbreaks inside facilities has been self-reported. Yet among the facilities with a COVID-19 cluster not on this list was the 350-bed Long Island State Veterans Home, which has reported 57 resident cases and 32 deaths, according to an April 17 letter to family members.
"The Long Island State Veterans Home reports all of its COVID-19 data on the New York State Department of Health’s Health Electronic Response Date System on a daily basis," the facility said in a statement. "The information submitted by the nursing home is verified by a Department of Health official each day."
A. Holly Patterson, a publicly run 589-bed facility that has reported 22 COVID-19 deaths, was also not included. Robert Detor, chairman of the public benefit corporation that runs the facility, said only four of the deaths took place at the Uniondale facility, keeping them below the state's threshold to be publicly reported.
Peconic Landing, a Greenport retirement community, has reported nine deaths, but the state's list included only six. A spokesman declined to address the discrepancy "out of respect for the personal privacy of everyone here."
The state identified only four assisted living facilities — all on Long Island. They are Sunrise of Dix Hills with eight deaths, and Atria Park of Great Neck, Babylon Beach House Home for Adults, and Sunrise of Smithtown with six apiece.
Atria, which operates 10 assisted living communities on Long Island, has publicly reported 17 deaths at its South Setauket facility. An Atria spokesman said “the vast majority” of those deaths occurred at hospitals.
Stephen Hanse, president of the New York State Health Facilities Association, which represents nursing homes and assisted living facilities, said his members report COVID-19 cases to family members and area health departments.
"The figures confirm what we have been exclaiming throughout this pandemic — nursing homes and assisted living providers care for the most vulnerable in our communities, and as such, must be a top priority for the allocation of staff, personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing," Hanse said.
Lisa Newcomb, executive director of the Empire State Association of Assisted Living, said their members "have complied with state and local health departments' policies and guidelines."
With Yancey Roy
Long Island nursing homes reporting five or more deaths inside their facility
Lynbrook Restorative Therapy and Nursing: 6
Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation: 8
Hempstead Park Nursing Home: 8
Townhouse Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing: 8
Highfield Gardens Care Center of Great Neck: 9
The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Great Neck: 13
White Oaks Rehabilitation and Nursing Center: 13
Sunharbor Manor: 16
Central Island Healthcare: 19
Long Beach Nursing and Rehabilitation Center: 22
Luxor Nursing and Rehabilitation at Sayville: 6
Peconic Landing at Southold: 6
Good Samaritan Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center: 10
Island Nursing and Rehab Center: 10
Our Lady of Consolation Nursing and Rehabilitative Care Center: 15
Luxor Nursing and Rehabilitation at Mills Pond: 21
Apex Rehabilitation & Care Center: 26
Carillon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center: 29
Atria Park of Great Neck: 6
Babylon Beach House Home for Adults: 6
Sunrise of Smithtown: 6
Sunrise of Dix Hills: 8
Source: NYS Health Department