Rockland woman whose mother died in nursing home amid pandemic calls for transparency

Shuren believes the nursing home death toll is much higher because deaths like her mother's are not listed as COVID-related.

News 12 Staff

Feb 16, 2021, 10:34 PM

Updated 1,224 days ago

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A Rockland County woman whose mother died in a nursing home amid the COVID-19 pandemic is calling for transparency.
Maria Shuren can't bear to box up the items that once belonged to her mother, Lucille Dimas. She says she spent every day with her, even after she moved into the Pine Valley Nursing Home in Spring Valley.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit just months after Dimas turned 101.
Dimas contracted the virus and died on April 7. Her death certificate lists coronary artery disease as the cause.
"My mom didn't die of that. My mom died of COVID," says Shuren.
Shuren believes the nursing home death toll is much higher because deaths like her mother's are not listed as COVID-related.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now facing a firestorm of criticism over his handling of coronavirus in nursing homes during the early days of the pandemic.
State leaders from both parties are now calling for an investigation, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo denies allegations of a coverup.
Shuren says the lack of transparency weighs on her family.
"It's so hard on the family because you can't find that closure," she says.
Pine Valley tells News 12 that it is unable to speak on a specific resident's case, but did say the cause of death is determined by a patient's doctor - not the facility.
A spokesperson added that during the early stages of the pandemic there was a lack of COVID-19 testing available everywhere.
Full statement from the Pine Valley Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing: "Due to privacy laws, we are unable to speak regarding a specific resident’s case, including their cause of death. Please note, the cause of death is determined by the patient’s own doctor and not by the facility. This decision would be based on the patient’s medical history and information available at that specific time. With regard to the specific time frame you are requesting, please note that during the early stages of the pandemic, there was a lack of COVID-19 testing available everywhere. And without testing, there is no way to confirm a COVID-19 positive individual. Whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, residents were being monitored for changes in condition and being treated accordingly. Quality of care was at that time and continues to be at the center of our efforts. We have been in contact with families throughout this crisis and we will continue to communicate with them."


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