Coronavirus: Nursing homes prepare for possible cases of COVID-19

RIVERDALE, The Bronx (WABC) -- Many nursing homes are at the forefront of the fears regarding the novel coronavirus spread, with populations considered the most at-risk for COVID-19 deaths.

Hebrew Home at Riverdale is the largest nursing home in New York State, with 1,000 seniors living on the 32-acre facility in the Bronx.

Now, new protocols are in effect to prevent coronavirus from impacting the residents.

"What our residents have told us me is we've been through much worse than this," CEO Daniel Reingold said after touring the facility. "We've been through 9/11, we've been through World War II, and we've been through depressions."

He's added extra cleaning crews to deep clean the eight buildings, and visitors must answer a list of questions before being allowed inside.

Guards ask them:

--Have you traveled internationally over the last 14 days?
--Do you have any signs or symptoms of respiratory infection, such as fever, cough or sore throat?
--Have you had contact with someone with or under investigation for COVID-19?

No one under the age of 18 can visit the campus until future notice.

"We want to be sure that our residents are protected from people who might asymptomatic but bring the virus in," he said.

Hebrew Home has seven full time doctors, 180 nurses and 400 nursing assistants, and supplies are all on hand to handle possible emergencies. No one connected to the campus has been suspected of COVID-19.

The staff is trying to strike a balance between preparation and maintaining a positive quality of life for residents. Large group activities are canceled, but entertainment programs are offered on TV monitors on each floor.

Staffers have also intercepted scams targeting seniors, including emails offering cures for coronavirus trying to take advantage of seniors.

"Our populations here is at risk for not only the virus but the scams that often come with it," Reingold said.

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