Coronavirus News: Dialysis patients worry about COVID-19 after death connected to NYC treatment center

BROOKLYN (WABC) -- Patients at a dialysis center in at the corner of Church Avenue and Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn expressed concerns about whether the facility is doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus after a fellow patient recently contracted the virus and died.

"I am very worried about my health," patient Francisco Arroyo said while fighting back tears. "Very, very worried."

Arroyo suffers from kidney failure and needs dialysis to stay alive. His health condition also puts him at increased risk for contracting a more severe case of COVID-19.

"I love my kids, and I don't want to lose my grandkids," Arroyo said. "You know, it's very emotional. This thing is unbelievable."

Arroyo said that because he visits the center multiple times a week for several hours, he has become close to other patients also receiving care and their families.

Among those patients was a man named Alfred Bagley.

His partner, Edna Capers, spoke to 7 On Your Side Investigates after losing Bagley to the virus in late March.

"It has been an emotional roller coaster for me," Capers said. "I picked him up from dialysis, took him to the emergency department, and I never saw him again. I haven't even had time to process what happened."

Not long before getting sick, Capers said Bagley sat next to another woman receiving dialysis and suffering from a severe cough.

Capers said that woman was among several patients at the facility who have died in the last month after experiencing COVID-like symptoms.

The medical examiner could not confirm for 7 On Your Side Investigates those patients' cause of death.

"My biggest struggle now is to try to make sure no one else in that dialysis center dies," Capers said.

7 On Your Side reached out to Brookdale Dialysis Center, run by the Rogosin Institute, and asked whether the facility could confirm how many patients had contracted coronavirus and what the facility was doing to limit exposure.

A spokesperson for the facility did not answer either question and instead provided this statement:

"Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our patients and staff. We are following guidance from local and federal public health officials about best practices and protocols as we work to safely ensure that our patients continue to receive the essential care they need during this unprecedented public health crisis."

An OSHA spokesperson said the agency had no record of coronavirus-related violations at Brookdale Dialysis.

The New York State Department of Health said the facility was due for a recertification inspection last month, but that inspection was postponed because of coronavirus.

The state has issued dialysis centers statewide guidance about best practices amid the pandemic encouraging centers to take extra precautions to limit the transmission of the virus among patients, to implement home dialysis treatments when possible, and to isolate individuals with possible COVID.

Patients said the facility had begun limiting visitors and taking their temperatures at the start of treatment, but they wonder if the facility did enough to limit exposure at the start of this pandemic.

"It's scary, it really is," Arroyo said.


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