Tanglewood owner reacts to recent COVID-19 outbreak

Nick Ferreri

Two days after an announcement of a COVID-19 outbreak at two of his adult care facilities, Tanglewood Group owner Nick Ferreri told The Post-Journal on Wednesday that the facility is moving forward to try and contain it.

“We go through the isolation of residents that are positive and go through the process that is mandated by the state,” Ferreri said. “That’s what we’re doing right now. It’s unfortunate that it’s happened.”

Chautauqua County officials reported on Wednesday that 61 of the county’s 104 active cases are related to exposure at Tanglewood Manor and Memory Garden in West Ellicott– 51 residents and 10 employees. Ten of those cases announced on Monday were reported to have been hospitalized with “mild” or “moderate” symptoms.

Four residents from those facilities had positive test results on Saturday. Six more were confirmed on Sunday which prompted the facility to test all residents and staff, revealing an additional 47 cases on Monday.

Ferreri said he was made aware of the initial positive cases from over the weekend as soon as they were revealed, even though he is currently out of town.

“If I’m not in and something like that happens, they call me immediately and then we sit down and review whatever the mandates are and we look at the practicality of where we are and who has it and what we should do, and then we resolve the issue immediately,” he said. “I’m involved with all of it. My staff is very self-sufficient but I’m always called whenever there is anything with the health of the staff and residents.”

His hope is that it will be mitigated in the next several weeks.

“We hope that this virus is out of our place within the next 30 days,” he said. “Our game plan is to try and get rid of it in the next two weeks. My staff and all the residents are working together and I think our structure is such that we can isolate the individuals in groups and also service them.”

Ferreri said that contact tracing the exposure has been a challenge.

Because both Tanglewood Manor and Memory Garden are adult care and not skilled nursing facilities, residents do usually leave for medical appointments.

“It’s impossible for us to trace it because if you test and you test and you have 30 or 40 people, how do you test that?” he said. “The biggest problem with this ailment, with this virus is that there is no perfect symptoms. From where it was a very lethal virus, what affects us the most is we never know who has it because they don’t show any symptoms and then we test it.”

Ferreri maintains that his facilities have followed New York state guidelines faithfully and, other than exposure in early September at Memory Garden in which three residents were infected, had not seen a cluster this large until Monday as a result.

“The most important thing that everybody should know about is that we are mandated, by the state, to follow certain procedures,” he said. “When there is a case, we followed all of the rules of not having visitation and various other things.”

“My opinion, which doesn’t mean very much, is that it seems like this virus has mutated to a point that most of the individuals in our facilities who have tested positive don’t have symptoms and are asymptomatic,” Ferreri added.

Further, Ferreri has been in regular contact with the New York State Department of Health’s Western Region office out of Rochester. Having already established a good rapport with them, he noted that they are confident with the facility’s ability to mitigate the virus’ spread.

“We work very closely with them,” he said. “We’ve been around for 30 years and the rapport with my father was great and it was always great with me and my staff. They were down there and we communicate constantly and they are very supportive and know our ability and what we’ve done in the past and what we’re going to continue to do in the future.”

Additionally, over the weekend and over the course of Monday, families were made aware if their loved one tested positive for the virus, Ferreri said.

“Whenever anyone has tested positive, we contact the families immediately,” he said. “I also worked with the staff and wrote another letter to all of the residents bringing them up to date. Next week when I’m there and after I survey everything, I’m going to send a letter out myself to all the family members.”

Staff have been in contact with family members, too, Ferreri noted. He assures them their loved ones are in good hands.

“From what my staff tells me, the families are more apologetic about what we’re going through as a staff because they’ve gotten very close to all the staff members,” he said. “We just have a great group of families that realize we’re doing the best for our loved ones and that when this stuff happens, because it could happen at home and it could happen anywhere, that they feel safe. Everybody is concerned when anybody has the virus, but their loved ones are in good hands.”

Most of all, Ferreri wants the public to have confidence that the residents are being taken care of.

“We’re praying that there’s no serious illness and hopefully within the next 30 days, we’ll be back to normal if there is such a thing with this virus,” he said.

“I’m worried about the flu or pneumonia and all that stuff that happens as we handle things over the last 30 years,” he said. “We’re very cautious with all of that and we’ve been very fortunate over the last two years especially fighting the flu virus off. We’ve taken all kinds of precautions with masks and flu shot, pneumonia shots and we’re hoping this season is light — but who knows. It’s part of the job.”

Meanwhile, the Chautauqua County Health Department announces 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The new cases include: seven from Jamestown, three in Ashville, two in Falconer and Frewsburg, one in Dunkirk and Lakewood. There are 104 active cases, continue to recover under orders of the Local Health Official per state Public Health Law.

The county also reported there are 10 active cases among employees of and 51 active cases among residents associated with Tanglewood Manor. No one associated with this outbreak has recovered.

To date, there have been: 695 recovered cases, 13 deaths and 812 total confirmed cases.


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