A second planned demonstration at the 160-bed The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing facility at 801 N. James St. will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday amid growing numbers of allegations statewide against nursing care facilities amid the backdrop of COVID-19.
An Aug. 11 Associated Press report detailed that since May, “federal regulators have required nursing homes to submit data on coronavirus deaths each week, whether or not residents died in the facility or at a hospital. Because the requirement came after the height of New York’s outbreak, the available data is relatively small. According to the federal data, roughly a fifth of the state’s homes reported resident deaths from early June to mid July — a tally of 323 dead, 65% higher than the state’s count of 195 during that time period.”
An early August demonstration at The Grand in Rome made news headlines after a resident, RaeJean Wallace, posted a video to Facebook describing her concerns about a lack of adequate medical care at the facility compounded by coronavirus infections and deaths in the last few months.
Among the deaths was Michael Grifasi, who was a resident of The Grand for about two and a half years before his April 20 death. His daughter, Marissa Grifasi, who lives in the Philadelphia area, said she last spoke to her father around April 6.
At that time, he had said that his roommate at The Grand, “had gone to the hospital but he didn’t know why,” she remembers. Over the following days she tried multiple times to reach him by phone but was unsuccessful. Thinking there was a wifi problem (as had happened in the past at the facility), she contacted nursing staff at The Grand who informed her that her father was “not doing so well” and that he was on oxygen, she said.
“No one called to tell us this,” she said, noting that failing to notify family in the event of a status change is a break in protocol. Grifasi, who works in the medical field, found that a chest x-ray performed on her father was consistent with COVID-related pneumonia. And when Michael Grifasi was transported to a local hospital (at Marissa’s insistence) he had a 105 degree fever.
In following, Marissa Grifasi found out that her father’s roommate had COVID-19, prompting that person’s hospitalization. “The Grand told us nothing,” she adds, further noting she is waiting on copies of her father’s medical records.
Because of incidents like Grifasi’s and Wallace, RaeJean Wallace’s daughter Ruth Wallace has been busy advocating for her mother who says that since news broke at the facility on the quality of care, there are still issues.
There have still been COVID-related deaths and there are still inattentive care episodes such as residents bedding changes and toileting not being reliable, she said, “Feces has been found in showers. You would hope that positive change would happen faster. ...There are some great aides in that building. There’s just not enough of them,” Ruth Wallace said.
Wallace added that she has noted less than adequate staffing during many shifts when compared to the workload of patient care needs.
In recent weeks, strides have been made to investigate the situation at Rome’s The Grand.
“The safety and well-being of nursing home residents is of paramount importance to the Department of Health. The Department is conducting an investigation at The Grand Nursing Facility in Rome. As the investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further,” said New York State Department of Health Public information Officer Jill Montag in an early August statement.
“The Department has concluded its complaint investigation at The Grand Nursing Facility in Rome and did not find any deficient practices," Montag said in an update today.
Also in early August, Bruce Gendron, vice president of The Grand Healthcare System also confirmed that the health department was investigating and added that the measure is routine. Fresh comment from Gendron or The Grand was not immediately available in time for this report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.