Hillsborough County Nursing Home Accounts for At Least 9% of all COVID Deaths in N.H.
True Mortality Rate at Facility Overseen by County Commissioner Toni Pappas Hard to Come By; May be Understated
The Hillsborough County Nursing Home overseen by by the County Commission chaired by Toni Pappas accounts for at least nine percent (9%) of all the COVID deaths in the state of New Hampshire. It is hard to tell exactly how much, as the weekly reports issued by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has reported the same amount of deaths — 39 (thirty-nine) — for months.
Apparently, the milestone of 39 deaths was established on or around July 27th, and that is the number that is still being used in the latest NH DHHS report, issued on October 30th.
Apparently, either the state of New Hampshire or Hillsborough County wants to freeze the official number of deaths at less than 40. It is a remarkable betrayal of the public trust, but one Governor Chris Sununu and Hillsborough County Commission Chair Toni Pappas apparently are getting away with.
The media shows little interest in pursuing the story, except in the most general of terms.
At the time I started writing this article two weeks ago, the death toll at the Hillsborough County Nursing Home was reported at 39. Research indicated that the actual, updated number was 43, and then 44.
The figure of 44 deaths at the Hillsborough County Nursing Home was in an InDepth NH article about the rating of New Hampshire Nursing Homes.
At the time, I believed that the 39 statistic had been current, and the current numbers had revealed another five people had died in the preceding week. I believed that that meant that while the Hillsborough County Nursing Home’s share of total deaths caused by the coronavirus had inched up but still represents approximately nine percent, but the share of the week’s death toll was between 15- 17%.
Then I noticed that the statistic of 39 deaths had not changed. The October 29th report of the DHHS still had the number at 39.
Curiously, the DHHS report looks like the slug line was pasted in, as the lines that form the “box” for the Hillsborough County Nursing Home are thinner, and the horizontal orientation is slightly askew.
Making inquiries produced no clarification. Toni Pappas ignored the question of what is the true death county, put on her seldom used Twitter account. Republican sources indicate that Pappas is dismayed that this is the first election in her long stint as County Commissioner from Hillsborough District 1 that she had to actually campaign, having been unopposed in 2018.
Being upfront about the true number of seniors that have died at her nursing home would not be in her self-interest, apparently.
The media, in general has not addressed the conditions at the Hillsborough County Nursing Home directly. Prior to this uptick, there had been little coverage of this ongoing tragedy in the press, other than a mention in the Concord Monitor back in July.
The Monitor article revealed that the 300-bed Hillsborough County nursing home had 158 cases, as of June 14th. At the time, that was the greatest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state. The number of infected staff members, 86, also was the most in the state.
The situation begs the question: Is the callousness of the response to senior deaths unique to Hillsborough County and New Hampshire, or is it part of a wider American phenomenon?
Masking the Death of Seniors
While debates rage about wearing masks, the fate of those most vulnerable to the SARS COVID 19 virus is ignored. The mask debate can be said to mask the unwillingness of New Hampshire’s politicians, political activist class and population to protect senior citizens.
Is the failure to protect seniors unique to New Hampshire, which has shown a similar callousness to civil rights and the plight of the poor? Or is the failure to respond adequately to the appalling number of deaths of seniors at the Hillsborough County nursing home and other long-term care facilities a symptom of America’s documented callousness towards seniors and other groups considered beyond the pale of concern.
Research results reveal that Americans put little value on the lives of senior citizens. When we talk of “Americans,” we are talking of the mainstream, that is, the majority, we are talking about a group that is overwhelmingly white. In addition to its disinterest in the lives of seniors, this group of “Americans” also places little value on the lives of other human beings that in what they consider marginal or “out” groups, such as people of color.
The Black Lives Matter movement is one response to this situation, as regards mainstream white treatment of African Americans. However, in New Hampshire, supporters of BLM — those white middle class so-called progressives who wage war on social media in behalf of BLM — ignore the death of a young black man in Hillsborough County’s notorious Vally Street Jail, just as it has ignored such issues as establishing municipal human rights commission in Manchester in the past.
Seniors and people of color, as out groups, are not seen as part of the New Hampshire community. Unless mass media champions an out group, such as they have with BLM, the New Hampshire community at large, overwhelming white and hostile to out groups, ignores the egregious treatment of seniors, including the death of former Manchester Mayor Emile Beaulieu from medical malpractice at Toni Pappas’ notorious nursing home.
The press ignored it, except for one story. New Hampshire at large seemingly could care less.
Mayor Beaulieu died because he was treated for fentanyl withdrawal when in reality he had had a stroke. Over at Commissioner Pappas’ notorious Valley Street Jail, young Nicholas Pappas died because he was not treated for fentanyl withdrawal. Substance abusers are another out group, whose plight pretty much is ignored, except as a nuisance.
The horrors of medical malpractice at Hillsborough County facilities continue, despite revelations of substandard care condition at the Valley Street Jail having been revealed by the Union Leader and other media four years ago.
Having lived in other states, I find it hard to believe that such situations would be tolerated, let alone ignored as they are in New Hampshire. But they are, and this engenders the horrors at both institutions. It also prevents something from being done to right the wrongs going on in the name of the people.
NOTE: The author is the Democratic nominee for Hillsborough County Commissioner, District 1. Toni Pappas currently is the incumbent.