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Coronavirus spreads at local nursing homes

Posted at 9:35 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 23:07:42-04

MANHATTAN — Damaris Solis-Padilla has nothing but good things to say about the Mary Manning Walsh nursing home and the staff that takes care of her 93-year old mother on Manhattan’s East Side.

But she knows the clock is ticking on the quality of her mother’s care.

"When they get sick, what are they going to do? And they don't have enough protective gear," said Solis-Padilla.

Coronavirus is spreading fast at Mary Manning Walsh with 70 COVID-19 cases so far, some of them fatal and caretakers not having enough “Personal Protective Equipment” or PPE.

To say the situation is unstable would be an understatement and Solis-Padilla feels helpless to do anything about it.

"They have to be in close contact with our loved ones," she said. "I mean, there's just no other way to take care of the elderly."

Scott LaRue is CEO of Arch Care, the healthcare ministry for the Archdiocese of New York, which runs the Mary Manning Walsh home.

"My staff are forced to wear ponchos or beautician gowns," he said. "They're going in and providing full codes on residents who have gone into cardiac arrest without the proper PPE to protect them. Even the patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19."

The PPE shortage is just a big a problem on the streets, on the front line, among first responders who are encountering potentially COVID-19 infected patients on any given call.

Vincent Variale president of FDNY LOCAL 3621, which represents uniformed EMS lieutenants and captains.

"The department has been pointing to CDC gudielines saying that it's not okay to wear the N95 mask, that you can wear surgical masks," he said. "But the unions are against that, following those guidelines. It has a very 9/11 feel to it."

So how do we even begin to address the PPE shortage before the expected spike in COVID-19 patients over the next week and beyond?

President Trump is betting big on individual states to partner with private companies to shift gears in their manufacturing.

"We asked the states to do this as much as possible," he said. "Many of the states have people that make clothing, lots of clothing."

Back in the Big Apple, a fund has been set up for city’s Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics who are responding to a record number of 911 calls and constantly exposing themselves to COVID-19.

Many EMS members are falling ill and under quarantine — some sleeping in cars — and are in need of financial support. You can donate to the EMS FDNY Help Fund here.