A woman whose father died at a coronavirus-plagued nursing home in Queens says she was kept in the dark about his condition because of a staffing shortage that meant no one was around to pick up the phone.
Livia Machin detailed to The Post the nightmare of trying to gather information about the health of her 83-year-old dad, Alfredo Munoz, who died at the Sapphire Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Flushing Saturday.
“They were short-staffed. I always had to hunt for information,” Machin, 47, said Tuesday. “It was ridiculous. It was crazy.”
Manchin said her dad was fine April 8 when she spoke to him via video — and was shocked to find out he was on death’s door three days later, when she was finally able to get through to his caretakers.
“I said, ‘How is this possible that no one called me to notify me of the changes in his status?’ I was bewildered and numb,” Machin wrote in a letter to Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) about her ordeal.
The Nassau County woman said her line of communication with the facility went dark when the outbreak began.
“Ever since they shut out visitors in mid-March due to the coronavirus epidemic, I was unable to get accurate information about my father,” she wrote in her letter obtained by The Post.
Machin described being given the runaround when she’d call up the home, where her dad, a former commercial painter, had lived for the last three years.
“They would transfer and then hang up on me. Eventually, after being transferred, the phone would ring endlessly at the nurse’s station,” she wrote.
“If someone would finally pick up they wouldn’t be able to answer any of my questions unless I spoke to the head nurse.”
And when she’d insist, “they would tell me he was fine.”
That’s what happened on April 11, when she finally learned her dad was seriously ill. He died a week later.
“How come no one called me? If I didn’t call no one was going to notify me?” she asked.
The issue was caused by a staffing shortage, Machin said.
“I was told they had only two nurses for six floors,” she told The Post. “It got way out of hand. It got out of control.”
She said it was presumed he died from COVID-19, but the nursing home never tested him.
At least 29 people have died of the coronavirus at the facility — but workers estimated the real death toll was probably closer to 60, The New York Times reported last week.
Sapphire is facing two lawsuits from the families of former patients who allege that poor care led to their loved ones being injured in 2016 and 2017.
Machin’s complaints echo those found in a July 2019 lawsuit that charged officials were operating the home “with insufficient staffing, and continuing to admit new residents whose needs the facility was not equipped to handle.”
The suit charged that the staffing issues “would likely result in resident injury and/or death” of residents, but that Sapphire “consciously disregarded this risk.”
Sapphire didn’t return a request for comment.
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