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City leaders call on more wellness checks for NYCHA seniors amid pandemic

Posted at 6:06 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 18:06:24-04

NEW YORK CITY — Two beloved grandmothers and activists died from COVID-19, prompting city leaders to demand more senior wellness checks inside NYCHA properties.

Sandra World loved life, but her passion was fighting for families — especially the seniors — as the tenant association president at the Stuy Gardens in Bushwick, a NYCHA development.

“She had a real love for seniors, not just because she was senior, but she wanted to protect them," said Councilmember Robert Cornegy, who represents her district said said he knew her well. "It's a tremendous loss for our family and this community."

Cornegy said World died from complications of coronavirus.

Chief David Barrere of the NYPD was among those tweeting about World.

Cornegy remembered World’s spirit, and said she was a hero to so many, devoting her life to fighting for tenant rights. He said he hopes World’s memory will now serve as a wake up call.

“It’s a shame we don’t have a better system in place of getting seniors what they need,” said Cornegy.

Meanwhile, Rev. Carmen Hernández, president of the tenant council at 1471 Watson Ave, said Sunday night their Bronx community lost a treasure.

Llian Collado, 74, died from COVID-19.

“It’s devastating, and we are mourning for her,” said Hernández.

Tuesday afternoon, a flower was placed in the lobby to remember Collado.

Collado was born in Puerto Rico, and was one of the first NYCHA tenants to move in over fifty years ago.

“We had six die in Woodson Houses on Friday. I’m sorry,” said Alicka Ampry-Samuel, the chair of the city's public housing committee.

Friday, Samuel got word that a half-dozen seniors died at the Woodson Houses in Brownsville. Samuel and Cornegy agree that more needs to be done to protect seniors in NYCHA.

“We have to do better. We have to do more," said Samule. "We have to make sure we are doing a live touch for our seniors. Who is doing the wellness checks? And when they do the wellness checks what happening on the other end?"

NYCHA CEO Greg Russ issued the following statement to PIX11:

"NYCHA residents are New Yorkers, and we are all affected by COVID-19. We are heartbroken to hear that we have lost members of our NYCHA family. From day one, we implemented a protocol to sanitize all of our buildings, above and beyond health department guidance. We continue to provide our residents with essential and emergency services, and we communicate the most current information, in real-time, to all of our residents, during this rapidly changing environment. Through NYCHA’s Community Engagement & Partnerships Department, we have reached out to our seniors and have made thousands of individual phone calls to our most vulnerable residents to confirm first-hand that they understand the precautions regarding COVID-19, to identify whether they have any special needs, and to ensure sure they have access to food, medication and necessary health and social services. We've connected residents to meal programs throughout our developments, throughout the five boroughs, to make sure that our families have access to food. We are all in this together, and we all need to support each other to keep our NYCHA community strong and safe throughout these challenging times.”

The city's Department for the Aging released the following statement to PIX11:

Keeping older New Yorkers safe and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis is our top priority. To ensure their health and safety, and to help maintain social distancing, all DFTA-funded in-person programming for older adults has transitioned to phone-based services and meal delivery services.

DFTA’s services are available to all New Yorkers, including NYCHA residents. In partnership with NYCHA, we have more than 100 older adult centers and social clubs located on NYCHA property across the city that provide services to older New Yorkers. As mentioned above, we have transitioned the services at these centers to phone-based services and meal delivery services, which are delivering five meals a week to the doorsteps of older New Yorkers at NYCHA developments.

  • Congeregate Meals: We have transitioned in-person congregate meals to a citywide meal delivery system. DFTA worked with its network of partners to quickly transition its in-person congregate meals at nearly 300 senior centers, satellites and social clubs – including those at NYCHA property -- to a meal delivery system that will supply up to 170,000 meals a week to seniors across the five boroughs.
  • Friendly Visiting: The Friendly Visiting program has transitioned from in-person visits to virtual and telephone-based visits. Currently, instead of visiting older adults in their home once a week, volunteers are calling their Friendly Visiting matches 2-3 times a week to continue providing social engagement and avoid isolation. New matches will meet and socialize over the phone until the program transitions back to in-person visits.
  • Case-management: The DFTA’s case-management program connects homebound older adults with in-home services, including home-delivered meals, personal care, housekeeping, and connection to resources. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, the case-management program will continue to take on new clients and conduct all intakes and assessments over the phone.