Coronavirus NYC: Families Desperate for Answers After Dozens Killed at Sapphire Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing of Central Queens


FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) – Dozens of residents of a Queens nursing home have died from COVID-19 and some fear there may be more victims. Families are desperately looking for answers about their loved ones and say the nursing home is obstructing and refusing to tell them anything.

Berna Lee’s mother is at the Sapphire Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing of Central Queens and says she hasn’t been able to see her 77-year-old 85-pound mother for weeks.

Since then, her mother has developed pneumonia and a high fever, but Sapphire will not test her for COVID-19.

“I feel tremendous frustration, anger and panic, I’m really scared for my mom,” said Lee.

Like thousands of people who have closed loved ones in nursing homes due to the coronavirus crisis, Lee has no idea what happened to his mother.

“I know she’s fighting and I just need her to know that I’m fighting for her,” said Lee.

There is little or no information on nursing homes during the crisis.

The state announced on Monday that hundreds of people had died in nursing homes in the five boroughs. There are 663 nursing homes in Queens and hundreds in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

A quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the state have died in nursing homes.

State Assembly Speaker Ron Kim spoke on Thursday to demand action:

“The state has not provided the support necessary to keep our most vulnerable members safe. I am still traumatized by the way my constituents and their families continue to be kept in the dark as their loved ones die for themselves in these nursing homes. “

Eyewitnesses contacted the nursing home for comment, but they did not return any calls or emails.

The state has promised a detailed report on deaths in nursing homes, but has yet to publish one.



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