New York City

Coronavirus Truths About Coler Hospital

Coronavirus Truths about Coler Hospital, obscured by crisis, cleared a little. No news is good news, but Coler’s is not so bad. Will New York media notice?

By David Stone

A few days after we noted the scarcity of facts about Coler Hospital’s battle against Covid-19, a day after Patch inquired during Mayor de Blasio’s briefing, the news came out.

Get local: Roosevelt Island News

Coler, Health & Hospitals said, recorded 73 positive results for coronavirus among 540 residents. HHC oversees the Roosevelt Island nursing facility.

Unrelated, but relevant, the State also reported that 31% of city residents randomly tested showed evidence of the virus.

Coronavirus truths about Coler lifted in the fog.

Coler Specialty Hospital
Coler Specialty Hospital’s main entrance.

Put those numbers together for a minute.

They’re astonishing. Coler outdid the general population. Only 13.5% infected, compared to 31 outside.

Yes, it’s not a perfect match because the groups are so different. But it does tell us that Coler acted responsibly and effectively. Raw counts of infection matter because their population is so vulnerable. It’s a nursing home, after all. Cut the rate, save lives at high risk.

So, why are some jabbering recklessly, undermining the success of workers at high risk?

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Strange Brew: Murdoch and Mother Jones marriage of convenience

While Roosevelt Islanders rally each evening in support of healthcare workers, among others, a mismatched pair of publications rise up to undercut them.

Stranger still, other locals feed the trolls with snarky, unproven tales accusing Coler and its staff of neglect.

Momo, companion dog for Coler
In January, Coler accepted Momo, a gift of companionship for Open Doors, a creative group nurtured at the hospital.

At first glance, you wouldn’t expect Mother Jones, named after a 19th Century social activist, and the New York Post, aligned with ultra conservative Murdochs and Fox News, to wed in their missions.

But both engage in cheap shots at the middle, and neither likes the status quo of liberal democracy.

And Open Doors, a creative collective of Coler residents, arrives as source for the cruelest snark.

“How many people has to get sick and die before someone actually steps in and does something?” the Post quotes one resident. Its source was an email distributed by Open Doors organizer Jennilie Brewster, an Island resident.

But these actions may score poorly for Open Doors because they risk hard won credibility for the group. In several public events, poetry readings and plays, locals embraced Open Doors artistry.

Now they seem to demand special attention, disregarding other hospital residents and emerging facts.

And what good’s won by attacking care workers who risk their lives treating coronavirus patients at Coler Hospital, anyway?

Coronavirus Truths at Coler Hospital, Another Side of the Coin

Strangely absent from mainstream media coverage is Coler’s Auxiliary, a local group dedicated to helping all of the hospital’s residents.

The all-volunteer auxiliary, now led by Judith Berdy (on the left, below), has done its work quietly.

Last June, Coler Hospital Auxiliary set up a tent during FIGMENT NYC, raising funds for residents.

“Our friends at Coler have been recipients of items and services to make their lives better from the COLER AUXILIARY for decades,” Berdy wrote in an OpEd seeking donations.

She has lately been concerned with the rumor and gossip mill seeding distrust of the staff at Coler. You will not find her quoted in the Post or Mother Jones.

Her story and that of others contributing positively to Coler don’t fit the preferred narrative. Coronavirus truths about Coler Hospital are not on their agenda.

But we hope current information will clear the air and lessen worries about what’s happening inside the isolated facility.

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