For More Information Contact:
Colleen Pillus, Communications Director (845) 486-2000
Colleen Pillus, Communications Director
Poughkeepsie, NY… Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has announced the County’s Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) will work together with the 13 nursing homes located in Dutchess County to test each nursing home resident to ensure the health and safety of these vulnerable residents.
County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “The health and safety of every Dutchess County resident remains our top priority, and caring for the well-being of our most vulnerable seniors during this pandemic is critical. We have seen the ravaging toll COVID-19 has taken on nursing homes throughout our nation, and we are taking proactive steps to ensure we save lives. We thank the dedicated staff at our local nursing homes for their unwavering dedication to their residents, as well as their willingness to partner with us and make this vital testing program a reality.”
Dutchess County will begin a pilot program with Wingate at Beacon nursing home, as based on Wingate’s resident count, DBCH can provide its limited supplies to them for resident testing. DBCH will provide initial COVID-19 swab tests as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the nursing home staff to perform safe and accurate testing. DBCH will work in consultation with the infection control specialist staff of Wingate at Beacon throughout the testing process.
While there have been limited number of positive COVID-19 cases reported in nursing homes located in Dutchess County to date, recent testing in Ulster County has heightened concerns about potential spread of coronavirus, as 96 out of 330 residents at two Ulster County nursing homes tested positive for COVID-19 – with many of these cases exhibiting no symptoms (asymptomatic) and the individuals had only been in contact with healthy residents and staff members.
To ensure every nursing home resident in Dutchess County is tested, County Executive Molinaro has petitioned New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo for 2,000 tests for the Dutchess County’s Nursing Home Task Force. As the initial pilot gets underway, and as tests are made available from New York State, Dutchess County’s Nursing Home Task Force will collaborate with each of the nursing home facilities’ infection control specialist to plan for each facilities’ specific needs, including providing adequate PPE supplies for staff to ensure there is no cross contamination during testing.
DBCH Commissioner Anil Vaidian said, “Under the direction of County Executive Molinaro, we are aggressively working to accurately analyze the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in our local nursing homes so we can best treat those who are ill and contain its spread. This testing program is just Dutchess County’s latest effort to protect nursing home residents and personnel from this pandemic, and we will continue to provide both guidance and resources to care for our seniors.”
Nursing home safety has been a top priority for Dutchess County throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Although nursing homes are under the authority and oversight of the New York State Department of Health, County Executive Molinaro established Dutchess County’s Nursing Home Task Force, under the direction of DBCH, to be in regular contact with nursing home leadership. The Task Force keeps open lines of communications, offers guidance where appropriate, and helps facilities address concerns and emerging issues, convening weekly conference calls with nursing homes. Among the pressing needs has been the provision of PPE supplies to meet heightened New York State Department of Health mandates for nursing homes. Dutchess County has worked closely with the nursing homes, providing isolation suits & gowns, eye protection, N-95 respirators, surgical masks, as well as hand sanitizer.
Staffing has also been a concern for nursing homes. Stress levels and fear for all essential employees remain high and there is always a concern about lack of staff availability should there be large numbers of staff who need to be quarantined. News of deaths in nursing homes in other areas of the state and nation creates anxiety for staff, patients as well as their families.
To help combat the extreme amount of stress this pandemic has placed upon nursing home and residential facility staff, County Executive Molinaro and Deputy Commissioner of DBCH Dr. Jacqueline M. Johnson have mobilized the Dutchess County Trauma Team to provide mental health support. This collaborative team of mental health and substance abuse professionals respond to unpredictable and extreme events in Dutchess County. Led by Dr. Ellen Marx, the team will provide an in-service to nursing home staff to discuss the range of emotions the pandemic causes in general, work-related frustration and anxiety, dealing with grief, the importance of self-care, and much more. Individuals are helped to review their situation, encouraged to express the wide range of emotions traumatic events bring up, and identify strengths and ways to cope.
County Executive Molinaro concluded, “The nursing homes in Dutchess County are working around the clock to provide safe and loving care to their residents. Patient safety is paramount priority. We appreciate their willingness to work with us as we all seek to end this pandemic and protect our most vulnerable.”
Dutchess County Government continues to provide residents the most current information on its COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard, and further updates and guidance are available on its website, dutchessny.gov/coronavirus, and its Facebook and Twitter accounts.