Voices of Coler Petition for Survival

Nursing Home Residents’ Lives Matter

We, the undersigned—residents, patients, and staff of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler and our family and friends—denounce the intolerable and widespread negligence by Coler administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been put in harm’s way, our trust betrayed and our testimony ignored by those hired to protect us. It is time for a change.

We demand the immediate removal of Robert K. Hughes as CEO of Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Facility.

During March, April and May, inadequate testing and chronic understaffing, as well as PPE shortages and misinformation, put everyone inside Coler at increased risk of contracting the coronavirus and of suffering from other ailments, such as potentially fatal bed sores.

Beginning in late March, the addition of overflow patients infected with the coronavirus without sufficient precautions in place to protect residents and staff resulted in more illnesses and deaths that could have been prevented. We spoke up, only to have our experiences blatantly discredited by the administration.

Coler CEO Hughes has consistently and publicly denied the frontline testimonies of Coler residents, patients and clinical staff. The fact that the people voicing these complaints are predominantly Brown and Black makes his negligence particularly heinous.

Mr. Hughes’ refusal to recognize the harrowing conditions inside Coler, his gross mismanagement of our facility and his lies about our lived experiences—leaves us with no faith in his ability to assure our safety as uncertainty about the pandemic persists.

As a first step in creating a safer Coler, with a culture of dignity, equality and respect, we insist that Mr. Hughes be removed at once and replaced with a successor who hears our voices, represents our interests and acts in harmony with our concerns.

In addition to the removal of CEO Hughes, we have the following demands in order to ensure the safety and survival of Coler residents, patients and staff during the anticipated second wave of COVID-19:

  1. The creation of a forum that allows for consistent and open communication between residents and administration, supports equitable discussion and honors the testimony and autonomy of the residents and patients.

  2. The ongoing implementation of COVID-19 protocols including:

a. Complete separation of infected patients from healthy residents, including assigned clinical staff.

b. Adequate nurse and PCA staffing ratios to ensure quality advanced patient care.

c. Adequate supply of PPE for staff and residents.

d. Transparent, publicly accessible and current policies at Coler as they pertain to quarantine, lockdown and patients’ rights to negotiate access to the outside during COVID-19. Policies must be clearly written and visibly posted to avoid confusion.

  1. We echo New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s call for an investigative probe into the unacceptable conditions at Coler: “We want to get down to the bottom of what happened here”. We are requesting the following data from January 2020 to the present, aggregated by race and age:

a. Daily rates of overall patient and staff mortality

b. Daily rates of COVID-19 positive diagnoses from patients and staff

c. Health outcome data for patients transferred to acute care facilities from Coler following a positive diagnosis for COVID-19

d. Daily admission data of patients transferred into Coler with a positive diagnosis of COVID-19

e. PPE order history from January 2020 ongoing