Employees of an East New York nursing home claim that dead bodies have been piling up inside the center as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, putting residents and staffers’ health at risk.
“We are getting calls that dead bodies are piled up in the same room as patients in the nursing home,” said community activist Chris Banks, who helped organize a rally outside to condemn the conditions at Linden Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on Tuesday. “This is very hazardous and it must be addressed immediately.”
The center, which was built on Linden Boulevard between Ashford and Cleveland streets in 1996, offers short-term rehabilitation and long-term care, with a focus on “comfort and compassion,” according to its website.
Yet, the situation has quickly deteriorated as the pandemic enters its second month in New York and has infected over 28,000 Brooklynites.
“This is a disgrace to the nursing home,” said Alexis Lewis, a rep from the Council of National Nursing Association at the rally.
Lewis lauded the hard work of staffers dealing with these conditions, and called on the nursing home to clean up its act — and pay employees accordingly.
“Give them the damn pay and the equipment they deserve,” she said. “Bodies are laying in the basement.”
Civil rights activist Rev. Kevin McCall wondered how these conditions could affect patients hoping to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus.
“How can we stop the spread of COVID-19 when dead bodies [are] being stored in rooms instead of being removed?” said McCall, who also helped organize the rally. “No patient should be in harm’s way of dead bodies. This is America, not a third world country.”
McCall added that — like healthcare workers across the nation — those serving the nursing home are not being given the Personal Protective Equipment they need to properly curb the spread of the virus.
“We must arm the front line workers with equipment,” he said.
Community member Andrett Mitchell agreed, going one step further in saying that workers’ mental health must also be taken into consideration — especially given the “piles of bodies” being described.
“No one is talking about the mental health of the front line workers,” she said.
When contacted for comment, a spokesman for Lindens’ parent company, the Allure Group, denied that workers lacked proper equipment and claimed that arrangements are in the process of being made for the bodies in question at the center.
“Linden Center has an adequate supply of PPE, and we have reached an agreement with the union to provide hazard pay for our employees beyond what is required by their collective bargaining agreement,” said Richard Brum, general counsel for the Allure Group. “Arrangements have been made for a temporary morgue at the facility which will help alleviate the backlog at local morgues and funeral homes. Like all medical facilities on the front lines, Linden Center is treating Covid-19 patients as required by the Department of Health. We are doing everything in our power to provide critical care to the vulnerable and protect our brave staff and residents.”
Linden Center is one of many medical institutions that are struggling to find proper space for deceased patients — including Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene, which used a forklift to put dead bodies into a makeshift morgue.
Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell and Rose Adams