Naming The Lost Memorials Commemorates 6,600+ Nursing Home Deaths Uptown

Naming the Lost Memorials on Monday installed an art exhibit around the perimeter of the Isabella Center, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Washington Heights. The public artwork, which was installed at the intersection of Audubon and 191st street, reports a very small fraction of the deaths in nursing homes around the country: 3,473 deaths in just 60 facilities.

The Isabella Center, like many nursing homes nation-wide, has been publicly criticized for its lack of transparency with family members as COVID-19 outbreaks began inside the facility.

Naming the Lost Memorials is a collective made up of artists, folklorists, and people who have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic who have been creating monthly COVID-19 memorials since May. Naming the Lost Memorials designed this memorial in support of the New York Caring Majority, a coalition of seniors, caregivers, and people with disabilities who are demanding state investment in-home health care as the pandemic continues.

“Creating these memorials has been a way to recognize and honor those who have been lost, but also a way to connect as a community — finding ways to not feel alone, to contribute and give back to our communities and lastly, to give voice to our disappointment, anger, and sadness about how this crisis has been handled by those in a power,” said Elena Martinez, a member of Naming the Lost.

“For years, nursing home executives have put profit over people — so it’s no surprise that these broken institutions were not equipped to protect our loved ones when the pandemic hit,”

“For years, nursing home executives have put profit over people — so it’s no surprise that these broken institutions were not equipped to protect our loved ones when the pandemic hit,” said New York Caring Majority co-director Ilana Berger. “The need for home care is clearer than ever: home care is safer than our state’s underregulated nursing homes, and costs less than assisted living.”

“As an older woman, I am haunted by the ageism that pervades official response to the pandemic,” said folklorist Kay Turner. “I helped create this memorial to honor lives that were not only unnecessarily but also heedlessly lost in nursing homes.”

The New York state legislature held its second hearing yesterday on nursing home deaths during COVID-19, during which nursing home staff and advocates for the elderly testified to PPE shortages in institutions and an increased need for investment in-home care.

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