“Before Covid hit, our nursing homes were risky, risky places for both nonserious and life-threatening infections,” Troen said. “This pandemic is a clarion call that we need to fix them.” 

At Slate Valley

Slate Valley in Granville achieved its success against Covid-19 without employing some of the factors that some industry leaders recommend. 

The 88-bed nursing home, which the federal government ranks overall at four stars, or “above average,” has a traditional layout, with two wings of mostly double occupancy rooms.

It is not on the cutting edge when it comes to advanced nursing home industry models, such as the “greenhouse” approach, which features smaller residential-like units with private rooms and permanent staffs.

Slate Valley, a for-profit facility owned by Centers Health Care in New York City, also relies on agency workers to fill staffing gaps, a common practice among nursing homes, one that experts have said may be responsible for spreading Covid from facility to facility. But Doughman added that most of the contract workers are considered “regulars,” and not strangers.

Doughman thinks an on-site prayer group started by workers to cope with the demands of the pandemic might have played a role in her facility's success.

“We don’t know of one thing we’ve done differently from any other nursing home, except the prayer, and I don’t even know if that is unique to us,” the administrator said.


This story was produced through the New York & Michigan Solutions Journalism Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations and universities. The group is supported by the Solutions Journalism Network.