NYC nursing home refused to give rehab patients COVID-19 vaccine, politician claims

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A Queens nursing home in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak withheld potentially lifesaving vaccines from rehab patients, leaving a New York City councilman’s 96-year-old mother and others to catch the contagion.

Dry Harbor Nursing Home in Middle Village — where 44 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since Dec. 22 — vaccinated its long-term residents shortly before Christmas, but not patients admitted for short-term care after being discharged from hospitals, Councilman Robert Holden told The Post.

Holden’s mom, Anne, and others finally did get shots in a second vaccination round on Jan. 13, but it was “too little, too late,” the furious Queens Democrat said.

Anne Holden, 96, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday and admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, where she remained on Saturday. 

“If she had gotten the shot before Christmas, she would have been eligible to get the second shot in January. The earlier the better,” Holden said.

“They knew the numbers were going up,” he added. “They should have done more –inoculated everybody as quickly as possible to stem the outbreak.”

Dry Harbor staff told Councilman Holden that it was following a state policy that gave priority for the vaccines to permanent nursing-home residents.

But the state Health Department said the nursing home was wrong.

“There is no state policy prioritizing long-term nursing-home residents over other residents,” officials said.

Holden blasted Dry Harbor, where his mom was sent about four months ago to recover from injuries in a fall.

“It doesn’t make any sense to leave patients out. They’re just as vulnerable as permanent residents,” he said. “It’s in the best interest of the nursing home to vaccinate everyone so there’s not a spread.”

Holden said the nursing-home staff never said it lacked enough vaccine for everyone in the 360-bed facility. 

Federal data show the home has been about 75 percent occupied over the past several weeks.

A spokesman for CVS, which administered the jabs as part of a federal program to vaccinate nursing-home residents and staff, said there was no shortage of shots.

“There was no ‘limit’ at the first clinic — facilities taking part in the program provide us with a list for each visit, and we staff and supply accordingly,” said spokesman T.J. Crawford. 

“In this instance, questions about why someone was left off that list would best be answered by the facility.”

Dry Harbor administrator Mark Solomon did not return messages at the nursing home on Saturday, and the facility could provide no other spokesperson.


On Saturday, Cheryl Stone was dropping off belongings for her 86-year-old mother, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Jan. 20, days after she was discharged from NewYork-Presbyterian, where she was treated for a blood clot.

“I didn’t expect her to come here to get COVID,” Stone said.

Her mother, now asymptomatic, is receiving care on the fourth floor — where all the current coronavirus patients are housed.

She has not been vaccinated, Stone said.

“I’m not understanding if you’re not letting the loved ones come in, how are they getting infected?” she said. 

“The only way they’re getting infected is the staff or when somebody new comes in . . . It’s disappointing. I’m not happy about that.”

According to Dry Harbor’s website, 44 residents and 11 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 from Dec. 22 to Jan. 22. Of those, 27 residents have tested positive since Jan. 5.

Since the pandemic first reached the state in March, the state has recorded 34 suspected and confirmed coronavirus deaths at the home, most of them by May. 

Early in the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo required nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals, a criticized, now-rescinded mandate.

More than 8,200 people have died of COVID-19 in New York nursing homes.

The Cuomo Administration has persistently failed to release data on how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19 after they were taken to a hospital.

Two state Assembly members, Republican Kevin Byrne (R-Westchester) and Ron Kim (D-Queens), even penned a letter to President Biden last week asking him to make revealing the missing data a priority. 

“All visitations are currently on hold,” the Dry Harbor Web site says.

The state Health Department said it was “aware of a COVID-19 outbreak” at Dry Harbor and inspected the facility on Jan. 6 to ensure compliance with infection-control guidelines. 

A doctor who treats Anne Holden and other patients at Dry Harbor could not say whether the elderly woman could have avoided catching the virus had she received an earlier vaccination. 

He also could not explain why so many Dry Harbor residents had tested positive after getting vaccinated, saying only that some elderly people lack strong immune systems.

It could not be learned how many Dry Harbor residents had gone to the hospital with the virus, but a nurse told Holden that “only the serious cases” are sent. It was unknown whether anyone has died in the recent outbreak. 

CVS will administer additional second doses of the vaccine at Dry Harbor on Feb. 3.

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