A second patient has died at a Queens nursing home after being excluded from COVID-19 vaccinations, The Post has learned.
Carmen Martinez, 92, died Thursday after clinging to life on a hospital ventilator for two weeks, her family said.
Her son, Antonio Collazo, had asked the nursing home to vaccinate Martinez because she suffered from mild Alzheimer’s. But when the facility doled out the first doses on Dec. 23, it left her out.
“It’s a shame,” Collazo said. “These people are tasked with taking care of our elderly. Once the vaccine became available, they should call the family to get permission to give it to patients who can’t ask for it themselves.”
After Collazo complained, Martinez was scheduled to get the vaccine Jan. 13, but tested positive for COVID a day before, and took a turn for the worse in the hospital.
At least 59 Dry Harbor residents and patients have died of COVID in the nursing home or after being sent from there to the hospital with the virus, according to a state death tally updated last week under court order.
Martinez was the second to die of COVID after Dry Harbor decided to give priority for the first round of vaccines to permanent residents, and delay shots for rehab or short-term patients.
Vita Fontanetta, 66, a rehab patient, was admitted to the 360-bed facility to recover from a leg inflammation on Jan. 11. Two days later, the nursing home left her off the vaccination list.
Fontanetta tested positive for COVID days later and died Jan. 23.
Dry Harbor spokesman Juda Engelmayer partially blamed the state Health Department for what he called confusing instructions to nursing homes last December.
While the state told facilities they had to offer the vaccine to all residents, whether permanent or short term, it also warned they should not give a first dose unless patients could return for a second shot, Engelmayer said Saturday.
“So there was uncertainty. There were ambiguous policies that needed to be clarified and then logistics to be worked out.”
Dry Harbor devised a plan to offer ambulettes to help former patients return for a second shot, and a “secure, clean” visitation room so they did not have to enter the main facility, Englemayer said.
Dry Harbor wasn’t the only nursing home in New York struggling to get it right, he added.
“Children were calling the state to complain, ‘My parents are not being vaccinated,’” he said.
“There was a lot of outrage from the public about why certain people weren’t getting it.”
DOH spokesman Jonah Bruno denied any ambiguity on its part.
“The department has been very clear that nursing homes and their clinical partners should vaccinate all medically eligible and willing residents and must schedule a second dose at time of the first dose,” he said.
Even if the resident or patient is discharged, the second-dose appointment sticks, he said. If a resident is medically unable to return, the facility must arrange a way to give the second shot.
Queens City Councilman Robert Holden brought the problem to light after his 96-year-old mother, Anne Holden, a rehab patient at Dry Harbor, was excluded from a first round of vaccinations Dec. 23.
Anne received a first dose Jan. 13, but came down with COVID Jan. 20 and was hospitalized. She has since been discharged, but Holden placed her in a different nursing home.