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New York state finally released fatality data for individual nursing homes, painting a much grimmer picture of the toll taken by the COVID-19 virus.
The state Department of Health quietly updated its chart of nursing-home deaths to include those who died at hospitals as well as in the facilities. The 4,067 hospital deaths had previously been included in the overall state tally.
The total number of nursing home patients who died from COVID-19 is now 13,163 with nearly one-third dying in a hospital.
The Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center had 29 deaths at the home, and another 51 in a hospital.
Information for the Bronxcare Special Care Center had previously shown only eight COVID-19 deaths. But there were 20 additional deaths in the hospital, according to the new data.
At the Boropark Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, an additional 41 people died in the hospital on top of 32 at the home. The Sheepshead Nursing & Rehabilitation Center had nine deaths in the home, and 50 outside of it.
And there were 32 residents of the Parker Jewish Institute for Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Queens who died at the hospital in addition to 83 at the home.
The state Department of Health had refused for months to provide the information until it was forced to by a judge Thursday.
Acting Albany Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor blasted the DOH for claiming it could not produce the data, and ordered the stats released within five days. The Empire Center for Public Policy had sought the information under a Freedom of Information Law request.
But Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, said the information put out by the DOH Saturday was a small fraction of what it had requested. The group wants daily counts of fatalities from each nursing home in order to track the virus’ path over time.
He said that was the only to assess the impact of the state’s March 25 directive that mandated ill-equipped and understaffed nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients, knowing the elderly population was most at risk for the virus.
Hammond said the DOH has until Wednesday to release all the data.
State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker finally released the total number of nursing home deaths on Jan. 28, putting the figure at 12,743 with the hospital fatalities, instead of 8,740. The disclosure came after Attorney General Letitia James produced a damning report saying the number of deaths could be as much as 50 percent higher than officials claimed.
That total put New York’s fatalities ahead of California’s by about 2,600, the Empire Center found.
The DOH has maintained that New York’s nursing home deaths “rank well below the national average.”