“We were trying to find out where she was, and we kept calling different places,” Perby said.
They later learned that the roommate had died at a facility in Syosset, Perby said.
“That was really tough,” Perby said. “There were so many we found out had died in the three months we had been gone.”
Hospital officials confirmed that 21 residents had died in the aftermath of the storm during their time at other facilities, though none of the deaths were due to the dislocation. “Generally, individuals residing in a nursing home have multiple chronic health conditions, many are medically fragile, and some are admitted as hospice patients to ensure a dignified, well-cared for death,” said Sharon Player, LBMC’s director of public affairs.
Gina Maniaci, of Lynbrook, a 30-year nurse at Komanoff, had been caring for patients who were transferred to Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale. “I think at the beginning that [residents] were very anxious,” Maniaci said. “With the staff, we kept on reassuring [residents] that everything was going to be all right, and what was really good about it was that they were familiar with us. That really helped them a lot.”
Maniaci said that residents were “ecstatic” when they learned that they would be returning.
“This is their home,” Maniaci said. “The hope is to have all of the residents settled in. Many of them are now able to stay in the community where they grew up and be close to their families.”
Getting back to work
The reopening of Komanoff means that 200 employees have returned to work, Melzer said. Long Beach Medical Center, which is one of the largest employers of Long Beach residents, was forced to lay off 700 of its 1,200 workers after the storm.
“Which was just heart-wrenching because many of them live in Long Beach,” Melzer said. “They lost their homes, they lost their possessions, their cars, their jobs, and they lost their health insurance. So, what we tried to do is have arrangements with other hospitals to have our employees work there in those other facilities while remaining on our payroll; that way, they were able to keep their health insurance.”