WEST ISLIP, NY — Daniel Alvino was a well-known football referee on Long Island, a Vietnam veteran who needed neck surgery earlier this year.
Near the end of March, with COVID-19 killing patients across New York City, Alvino wasn’t happy with his treatment at a West Islip nursing rehab center.
A photo revealed his legs showed signs of edema and his feet were blistered.
“They said he was well enough to come home,” Tracy Alvino, his daughter, said.
But something wasn’t right.
“Buried in the paperwork, it said he was running fevers and COVID suspect,” his daughter recalled, showing us a medical record.
“So they suspected he had it, they didn’t test him, didn’t treat him, didn’t tell us," she said. "And they sent him home to us in horrible condition. He actually collapsed in the driveway.”
Alvino’s family told PIX11 Daniel Alvino, 76, begged them not to call an ambulance. But he got so sick several days later, he ended up on a ventilator and died April 16.
His entire family, in the meantime, became ill with COVID-19.
Alvino’s wife of 52 years, Claire, said she was "deathly ill."
"I had fevers ten days, diarrhea, chills. I took the malaria drug," Alvino’s wife said.
She said she believes her doses of hydroxychloroquine “saved me from getting the pneumonia.”
She said her son was the only family member who didn’t take the malaria drug “and he got double pneumonia.”
The family joined a Facebook group, Voices for Seniors, which discussed conditions at Our Lady of Consolation rehab center, where 40 people died.
The rehab center is run by Catholic Health Services, which had issued a statement saying it enhanced safety and infection control protocols during the pandemic and fostered patient-family communications.
Many other facilities in the five boroughs of New York City and beyond had higher mortality rates.
Vivian Rivera Zayas and her sister, Alexa Rivera, are the forces behind “Voices for Seniors.”
They said their mother, Ana Celia Martinez, was at the rehab for treatment of a leg abscess, but her release from Our Lady of Consolation was delayed and then she got sick. Martinez, who lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, died April 14 at the age of 78.
“My mother was not expendable,” Alexa Rivera told PIX11 through tears. “She was not data or a statistic. My mother was loved.”
Some families have hinted they’re interested in taking legal action, but there’s a provision in New York State’s current budget that gives legal protection to most nursing homes, unless there’s evidence of “gross negligence.”