April 20, 2020

Dear Extended Cobble Hill Health Center Family,

         In light of recent reports about COVID-19 related deaths here at Cobble Hill Health Center, we want to reassure you that we are doing everything humanly possible to protect the health and well-being of your loved one and all of our residents and staff.  Some of those measures include: increased frequency of sanitization of high touch surfaces throughout the day; screening residents at least three-times a day for any symptoms; screening everyone entering the building for illness including a temperature check; requiring all staff with direct patient contact to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and immediately isolating any resident with COVID-19 symptoms. 

As another precaution, we follow New York State Health Department guidelines to treat anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms as if they have COVID. This is done despite the lack of tests and testing equipment to verify that a patient has in fact the COVID-19 virus. 

Even with all these measures and strict adherence to the NYS Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, there have been, unfortunately, increased COVID-related deaths here at Cobble Hill.  As you are well aware, our resident population is, by definition, fragile, vulnerable and almost all have significant underlying health issues.- This means they are much more susceptible to succumbing to this deadly virus. Every one of our residents is precious to us and we grieve together with their families at the terrible toll this virus has taken. These are very difficult times for all of us.

We know how important it is for you to keep abreast of your family member’s health especially since visits are not currently allowed. This is why our social work, recreation, and dietary team members are striving to contact families twice a week, including video calls when possible, to provide you with updates. Our nurses are very busy caring for your loved ones and are speaking to those families whose loved ones are in isolation due to having COVID-19 symptoms. Our staff is totally committed to keeping you informed of how your family member is faring. Although we’d love to be in touch with everyone, we are currently only reaching out to the primary contact for each resident.  

Should you need to communicate with us, we encourage you to call a specific member of your loved one’s interdisciplinary care team. If you aren’t sure who those members are or need their contact information, kindly call our hotline at (718) 247-1153, or email us at familyupdates@cobblehill.org and we’d be happy to get it to you. We would also encourage you to sign-up for our email alerts via https://bit.ly/chhcfamily for future communication.  Please also check our website www.cobblehill.org for updates as well.

From the very beginning, we have been committed to being as transparent and communicative as possible.  You may have seen media reports that Cobble Hill Health Center had reported to the New York State Department of Health that we had 55 COVID-19 related deaths. In fact, that number at the time of reporting last Friday was 49 with only one confirmed death from COVID-19. The other deaths we believe were COVID-19 related and in the spirit of full transparency, we reported them that way.

As a result of our abundant concern and candid reporting, Cobble Hill Health Center was cited as having the highest COVID-19 death total of any skilled nursing facility in the state which was widely reported in the media. While this data was lacking context, misleading and outright inaccurate, what upset me most about the reporting was that it reached many of you before our own letter which was mailed last Wednesday. I well understand the frustration and fear that you must have felt upon hearing that news and my heart goes out to you for that.  

We have challenging times ahead, and rest assured that your loved ones are in the best of hands. Our staff has worked tirelessly to care for and comfort them. We have had to overcome staff shortages and a limited supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) making our jobs even harder. But our staff is exceptional and we are very proud of them. If you would like to send any words of encouragement to the team, you can do so by emailing us at covid19letters@cobblehill.org and we will distribute those kind notes.

We value your confidence and faith in Cobble Hill Health Center. We are totally committed to ensuring the health and well-being of your loved ones in these difficult times. We are all together in this battle which makes us strong and confident for the future. Thank you for your trust.

Donny Tuchman, CEO