News10NBC Investigates: Families fight for loved ones who can’t find nursing/rehab care

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Desperate families are struggling to find skilled nursing and rehabilitation care for their loved ones. The New York State vaccine mandate worsened staffing shortages in local nursing homes, so much so — many were forced to close their doors to new admissions. The issue is backing up our entire health care system.

With an increased demand for emergency care, the people who end up needing to be admitted to the hospital are often forced to wait days for a bed upstairs because there’s no room with nursing and rehab patients backing up.

Early last month, Hilary Grana’s brother Brendan woke up with shooting leg pains.

“He was in the emergency room for 48 hours, in a hallway,” she recalled.

He ended up losing total control of his lower body.

After days of tests, the vaccinated 55-year-old learned he was COVID positive.

“The COVID infection had triggered inflammation of the spinal cord which they referred to as transverse myelitis,” Grana explained, “so, he went onto a high dose course of steroids which is the treatment and then after the steroids, was to be moved to rehab.”

Brendan has been in the acute rehab unit at Unity Hospital ever since. Doctors are not sure whether he will ever walk again but it’s time for him to transfer to a long-term care rehabilitation center.

When the nurse manager provided options, he and his family were shocked.

“She had found four beds and three of them were in New York City and one of them was in a town [downstate] which I’m still not quite sure where that is,” Grana said.

As News10NBC has been reporting, more than two dozen local nursing homes stopped accepting patients when NYS’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers went into effect because of staffing shortages. A handful have re-opened but only for a very limited number of patients.

“I know there’s a lot of moving pieces in here and I know she’s doing her job but I’m trying to do my job as a sister and I love my brother and this is a horrid, horrid situation he’s been put in but this is his life,” Grana said.

The only other option the family has been given is home care but Brendan lives with his 89-year-old mother and the house is not handicap accessible.

“It’s not Brendan’s fault that the facilities that he needs to go to next aren’t taking him,” Grana said, “I’m afraid I’m going to get a call that Brendan’s going to be like “Hey Hil, I am out on Long Pond (Road)” and I’m gonna be like I don’t know what to do.”

A spokeswoman for Rochester Regional tells News10NBC, “Discharge to a facility doesn’t happen without an interaction with someone from our care management team. The family would meet with someone from the team before the patients is discharged from the facility.”

The family says there have been interactions but no viable solutions that will keep Brendan local while also giving him the rehabilitation care he desperately needs.