GOSHEN - One recent sign of progress at Orange County’s Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation is that 48 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have been taken out of isolation after going at least two weeks without showing symptoms.
Another is that the 360-bed home has had no new coronavirus cases for the last week, other than already-infected hospital patients who were admitted to Valley View under state orders to continue recovering, Valley View’s administrator, Laurence LaDue, said on Monday.
LaDue said COVID-19 infections at the county-owned home seem to have reached a plateau after weeks in which the illness spread through New York’s nursing homes and exacted a terrible toll among their vulnerable populations.
As of Sunday, some 3,625 residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities in New York had succumbed to the coronavirus, including 90 in Orange County, four in Sullivan County and four in Ulster County, according to the state Department of Health. Valley View is the largest home in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan and also had the most fatalities in those counties, with 25.
LaDue said Valley View has tested 388 residents in all since its first coronavirus case, beginning with those who showed symptoms and then expanding the testing to all residents in any unit in which someone tested positive. By Monday, that included seven of the home’s 11 units.
Some of those at Valley View who caught the coronavirus are getting better and leaving.
On Friday, staff members lined the hallways and applauded loudly as Marcia Clawson, an 85-year-old Middletown resident, was wheeled out of Valley View after three months of rehabilitation. Clawson, whose departure was recorded on a video shared by the county, was there to recover from a stroke she suffered during heart surgery when she tested positive for COVID-19 on April 7, according to LaDue.
He said Clawson was the fifth resident discharged from Valley View after having had COVID-19.
LaDue said the home has had adequate personal protective equipment for its staff and enough testing capacity, with help from county departments that provided testing kits, face shields and gowns and from Orange Regional Medical Center, which also supplied kits.
He argued the state’s new data on nursing home deaths is incomplete and unfair to facilities like Valley View that are large and that have taken in coronavirus hospital patients - as mandated by the state - that then died. The statistics don’t show, for instance, the size of each home or how many deaths were transferred hospital patients.
“There’s just a lot of variables that are not included in the numbers,” LaDue said.
He was echoing objections made last week by a trade group representing publicly funded and nonprofit nursing homes in New York. That organization, LeadingAge New York, told the state health commissioner in a four-page letter that omitting information about sick hospital patients could give "a misleading impression that the deaths were due to uncontrolled spread within the facility.“
The state Health Department’s March 25 directive for nursing homes to take in coronavirus patients from hospitals has stoked concern among residents’ families that it was increasing the exposure risk in those homes.