While Steuben County has recorded nearly 30 COVID-19 related deaths, around half of them have come from nursing homes.
Hornell Gardens, owned by Hurlbut Care Communities, is said to be a hot spot in the County for the virus.
Last week a plan was announced to move patients from the Steuben County facility, to Seneca Nursing and Rehabilitation in Seneca County.
Now, Hornell Gardens is under new scrutiny.
“Though we came into the building, we get our temperature taken. We’re cleared to work and we’re given a mask. That’s what should have happened. Instead, we were not given masks. We were told we didn’t need them,” said Colleen Cole, a former worker at Hornell Gardens to Spectrum News.
Nurses who voiced concerns were told to resign. Now, ownership is declining interview requests from the media.
“I didn’t decide to leave. I was asked to clock out and not return,” Cole said. “However, I did bring up concerns about the use of PPE.”
One of the major issues at play is the prospect of sharing PPE, which is what Hurbut has asked employees to do at the Steuben County nursing home.
“I had to be loud and let them know what was going on in there, because my coworkers and the residents were in danger,” Cole added.
Another former staffer, Michelle Leach backed up the claim that employees are being asked to share PPE.
“I saw gowns lined up and down the hallways,” Leach told Spectrum News. “The evening supervisor told me that everyone was in isolation due to a positive COVID resident, and everyone had to share gowns.”
Like Cole, she wrote a letter to her supervisors, expressing her concerns – and was given the option to resign.
Hornell Mayor John Buckley says some employees tested positive and continued to work. “From my understanding, there are some cases of positive with the employees,” he said. “If they’re asymptomatic, they continued to work, but only with the positive patients. They’ve separated the positive residents from the negative, and that applies to the employees as well.”
Buckley was one of the individuals who pushed for a plan to get positive patients out of the facility in Steuben County.
“It seemed like it was getting to a critical mass and nothing was happening,” Buckley said. “So the frustration on my part was growing, and I know it was growing on county officials. So we started pressing them harder and then we started having these meetings, and that was how the plan was born.”
Approximately 20 residents still have to be transported from Hornell Gardens to Seneca Nursing and Rehabilitation in Waterloo.