A decade ago, Kent Turner was working in the kitchen at Oneonta’s B-Side Ballroom, the popular nightspot, when he noticed a vivacious woman and her girlfriends were becoming regulars.
“We starting talking,” said Kent, and one thing led to another. “She had a heart of gold.”
Kent and Jackie fell in love.
Soon, the couple was attending Oneonta’s Community Gospel Church. For seven happy years, “she was really helpful in turning my life around,” he said.
But it wasn’t to continue.
Jackie was stricken with premature dementia in her late 50s, and she was admitted to Cooperstown Center’s Serenity Place, where her loving companion visited her regularly – until he couldn’t.
In February 2020, as COVID-19 loomed, state regulations forced Cooperstown Center to close its doors to visitors. For 13 months, not just Jackie and Kent, but the Center’s more than 150 residents were cut off from their families.
“When we had to close those doors,” said Lacey Rinker, director of nursing, “it breaks your heart.”
On Dec. 28, Cooperstown Center – the former Otsego Manor, now in private hands – advised its Family Council that two residents had died – not necessarily OF COVID, but WITH COVID.
Officially, one died of a bleeding hernia, the other of sepsis, at Bassett Hospital, NOT at the nursing home.
The Cuomo Administration’s Health Department took this kind of parsing a step further: Statewide, if a nursing home resident with COVID was transferred to a hospital and died there, he or she was counted as a hospital death, not a nursing-home death.
Attorney General Letitia James blew the whistle on this slack practice in a press conference last Thursday, Jan. 28, detailing an investigation that found nursing-home deaths from COVID may actually be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration has been letting on.
Later that day, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released new numbers, raising the nursing-home tally by 3,800 to a new total of 12,743. That means about a third of our state’s 40,000 COVID deaths happened in places like Cooperstown Center.
So Cuomo and his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, knew. But so what?
COOPERSTOWN – Two Cooperstown Center residents died at Bassett Hospital over the weekend after testing “positive” for COVID-19 while at the nursing home, according to an email sent today by Center’s Director of Nursing Lacey Rinker to the facility’s Family Council.
However, Rinker said in the email, the residents died of ailments unrelated to COVID.
INDEX – As a third-class Petty Officer in the Navy, George McCrea, 84, of Cooperstown, who served four years following the Korean War, from 1956 to 1959.
Because of COVID-19, McCrae was unable to participate in Veteran commemorations and had limited visitation on Nov. 11, but the Cooperstown Center inducted him into its Legion of Merit.
George has been at Cooperstown Center only since last year. He reminisces about the days he was in the Navy when his ship, the USS Leyte, hit a whale and the ship had stopped patrolling the Northeast Coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
COOPERSTOWN – For months after Governor Cuomo’s March 13 executive order on COVID-19, many families in Otsego County, as around the state, were unable to visit their loved ones in nursing homes, except perhaps through a window.
“Our first obligation is to keep our residents healthy,” said Levi Lazar, director at the Cooperstown Center, operated by the Centers Health Care, based in White Plains. “Their psychological and social wellbeing is also very important to us. We want our residents to see their families.”
CHRISTMAS CAROL – 3 – 5 p.m. Theatrical performance of classic Charles Dickens Christmas story returns for 7th year running. Tickets, $15/adult. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1453 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/stec_event/carol/0
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Gladys E. “Nicky” Smith, 91, died Monday, March 18, 2019 at Cooperstown Center surrounded by her loving family. Born May 14, 1927, in Bridgewater, she was raised and lived most of her life in the Bridgewater, Sauquoit, Clayville and Van Hornsville area. She married Leland Smith in December 1944.
FUNDRAISER – 6 – 10 p.m. Celebrate end of 2018 with Superheroes in Ripped Jean at ‘Cat tails & Cocktails’ event. Semi formal wear encourage, award presented to best dressed. Tickets, $30 found at Underground Attic, Peter Clarks Student Rentals, My Father’s Place. Covers admission, 2 drinks, hors d’oeuvres, raffle ticket. My Father’s Place, 5690 St. Hwy. 7, Oneonta. 607-441-3227 or visit www.facebook.com/superheroesirj/
CANAL EVENING – 6 – 8:30 p.m. Corning Museum of Glass GlassBarge offers glass blowing demonstration. See the barge arrive with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Canal Schooner “Lois McClure” at Noon. Weather permitting. Free, tickets required. Riverside Park, Canajoharie. Call 518-673-2314 or visit www.arkellmuseum.org/events-calendar
FARMERS MARKET – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Find products from Elk Meadow Farm Maple Produces, plants, jewelry, other merchandise. Lobby, Cooperstown Center, 128 Phoenix Mills Cross Road, Cooperstown. Call 845-269-2893.
AUTHORS SERIES – 1 p.m. Baseball author David Kelly present and discuss book “Ballpark Mysteries: The Cardinals Caper” Followed by a book signing in the Atrium. Included with Museum admission. The Bullpen Theater, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-7200 or visit baseballhall.org/node/17198?date=0
TALKING OPERA – 7 p.m. Director Tomer Zvulun and Conductor Nicole Paiement share perspectives on Pulitzer prize-winning opera “Silent Night.” Parish Hall, Christ Episcopal Church, 69 Fair St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-2255 or visit www.facebook.com/glimmerglassfestival/
BOOK SIGNING – 5 – 7 p.m. Get your copy of “Lewis Hine: Photographer and American Progressive,” signed by the author Tim Duerden and enjoy a presentation about the famous photograher. The Green Toad Bookstore, 198 Main St., Oneonta. Call 607-433-8898 or visit www.facebook.com/TheGreenToadBookstore/
WALKING TOUR – 7 p.m. Wayne Wright, of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, leads a tour of the former grounds of the Oneonta Central Fair (1873-1926). Cost, $3. Meet corner of Belmont Place & Hudson, Oneonta. Call 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org
AUTHORS SERIES – 1 p.m. Baseball authors Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith present and discuss their book “A Season in the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle.” Followed by a book signing in the Atrium. Included with Museum admission. The Bullpen Theater, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-7200 or visit baseballhall.org/node/17195?date=0