Family searches for answers after Elcor COVID death

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HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – Families are frustrated and continue to search for answers amid the NYS Nursing Home scandal. Here in Chemung County, residents are wondering how their loved ones contracted the virus at Elcor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Horseheads.

An anonymous resident contacted 18 News saying her mother was receiving physical therapy treatments at Elcor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and temporarily lived at the Horseheads facility. After a few days of sharing a room with another resident, she was taken to a different room. Although she did not have any COVID symptoms at the time, her family suspected either she or her roommate tested positive.

Within days of switching rooms, the resident’s mother began to feel lethargic and fatigued. She passed away a few days later in mid-February due to COVID-19.

“I was just angry to think that with another week or two with more physical therapy she could go home. She just wanted to go home so badly,” the resident told 18 News.

While families are grieving, they recognize they are not alone.

“That was how the anger burst up inside of me. Knowing there are other folks who lost their family members and who have been separated from them for months… I don’t have an answer. It is just a sad, sad trauma,” the resident concluded.

Last week, 18 News spoke with the Cass Family who lost their son Robert to COVID-19 after he was removed from his quarantined room at Elcor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Horseheads.

Lawmakers continue to investigate the New York State nursing home scandal and families are still searching for answers. On Friday, Governor Cuomo took some responsibility, saying the state did not get the numbers out fast enough. He quickly shifted much of the blame to misinformation and political theories.

Questions are still left unanswered for many New Yorkers after their loved ones died from contracting COVID-19 in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Who decides the protocol and who is enforcing it? It is a joint local, state and federal effort, but this process is confusing.

Governor Cuomo blames the Trump Administration and CDC saying, “They coincidentally leave out that the March 25 order was done after guidance from Trump’s CDC and CMS.”

Assemblymember Palmesano says this is untrue and that the State Department of Health creates and implements the protocol. County Public Health officials enforce these state mandates and if the facility is privately owned, there could be additional protocol created by the independent company.

For Deloris Cass, she is still confused after her son, Robert, passed away in November after contracting the virus in an Elcor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Robert was moved from his private room where he was quarantined to a different wing of the facility. He tested negative after the move but started showing symptoms.

“He had a slight fever. It sounded like it was some symptoms,” Cass said. “We asked and they said well we needed to move the negative away from the positive, but he was quarantined in his room.”

After he died, it was determined he had COVID-19. Now the family is asking why.

“Once he was moved and a week later he’s gone… it just sounds kind of weird,” Cass added.

Governor Cuomo is blaming the federal government, but Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss says it is the state’s responsibility.

New York State Department of Health will send down guidelines as to how they want things operated. Everything from visitation to testing to vaccination for patients at these assisted living facilities and nursing facilities,” Moss said.

18 News reached out to Elcor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for comment on their COVID-19 protocol, but has not heard back.

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