Monday, October 19, 2020

Learn What Really Happened Inside Roosevelt Island Coler Nursing Facility From Those Who Lived It During Early Stages Of Coronavirus Pandemic - You're Invited To October 21 Virtual Zoom Special Sneak Preview And Conversation Of New Documentary, Fire Through Dry Grass, From Local Filmmakers

 As previously reported:

The Friends Of Coler are a group of Roosevelt Island residents organizing to help the patients and staff of NYC Health & Hospitals Corp (HHC) Coler Facility during the Coronavirus pandemic

The Friends of Coler helped establish a Coler Task Force and according to this June 25 letter from Roosevelt Island NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and other elected officials to HHC President Mitch Katz:

... we are constituting a community-based Coler Task Force under the auspices of Community Board 8, chaired by Alida Camp, CB8’s Chair and a professional mediator to be called upon when necessary. The Task Force will be composed of Coler residents and families, local stakeholders and elected officials. The Task Force will identify issues of concern and obtain timely responses from Health + Hospitals senior management, facilitate tours of Coler for members of the committee and elected officials, and ensure healthcare workers or residents who speak out are shielded from any retribution...
Julia Feguson is a Friends Of Coler volunteer and reports today:

COVID has dissipated at Coler as it has all over NYC and the Roosevelt Island Medical Center established within Coler has gone, but when individual cases arise due to staff Covid infections, then lockdown of patients ensues. 

Recent reports from Coler Rehab Nursing Care Center indicate we need to be very concerned for a pattern of actions that severely limit patient movement and keep them away from family and friends and advocates. As we all know from recent months, mental health and physical health are closely intertwined. 

The Friends Of Coler invite you to learn more about what really happened at the Roosevelt Island Coler nursing facility during the early stages this year of the Coronavirus Pandemic at a Virtual Sneak Preview and Conversation on Wednesday October 21 of a new documentary currently in the works - Fire Through Dry Grass.

This Wednesday evening, October 21, the Roosevelt Island NYPL branch and Friends of Coler are co-hosting a storytelling/fundraising event to support a forthcoming documentary about life inside Coler during the pandemic.

 Please join the Open Doors Reality Poets alongside filmmakers Andres "Jay" Molina (a Coler resdient) and Alexis Neophytides for the trailer release of their forthcoming documentary, FIRE THROUGH DRY GRASS, and a conversation about #ownvoices pandemic storytelling. 

 Fire Through Dry Grass - 2 min teaser from The Big Chair on Vimeo.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately affect people of color, poor people, currently and formerly incarcerated Americans, and nursing home residents, Molina and Neophytides will discuss the critical impact of documenting from the inside and uplifting narratives from the communities most at risk. 

Barreling toward election day, at a time when the pandemic is on the tip of every politician's tongue, Molina and Neophytides will share their artistic visions for documenting the vulnerability and devastation within one American nursing home as it really happened. 

Fire Through Dry Grass upends the official narrative about what happened inside Coler and puts the mic in the hands of the people who are still living through it.

Wednesday, October. 21 at 7:30pm.

 RSVP for Zoom link:

We hope to see you there, and feel free to share this invite with your friends and colleagues and acquaintances.  

Want to help make sure this story gets heard and seen widely? Make a tax deductible donation to support post-production and promotion costs, payable via the film's fiscal sponsor: 

The Friends of Coler introduce us to Fire Through The Dry Grass filmmakers Andres Jay Molina and Alexis Neophytides.

Andres "Jay'' Molina grew up in the Dominican Republic where he played minor league ball. In his late teens he left the D.R. for New York's Lower East Side with dreams of going to college. Jay put school on hold, working twelve-hour days to support himself and his mother.

In his late twenties, Jay found a way to make more money in a day than his whole paycheck driving a truck. He started selling drugs and spent time in prison all the while neglecting his health. In 2014 Jay developed a rare lung condition that attacked his vital organs and took his ability to walk.

Today Jay is nourishing a passion for filmmaking and animation, and being of service to and advocating for people living with disabilities. His poetry and writings have been published in NYU’s Literacy Review, The Main Street Wire and Wheeling & Healing: A Poetry Anthology Edited by OPEN DOORS Reality Poets. He’s a recipient of the 2020 NYC Mayor’s Office Safe In The City Grant.

The Reality Poets, the subjects of the film, are also deeply embedded in the process. Whether serving as co-director, composing the soundtrack, designing promo materials, or assisting with production logistics, every Poet is an active agent in telling his story. 

Jay anchors us in the emotional present. Locked inside, he and his friends feel the deadly virus’ threat in their bones. 

Accompanying them on the journey is Jay's filmmaking mentor, documentarian Alexis Neophytides, who grew up on Roosevelt Island. As kids, she and her friends roamed the island freely, picking mulberries and sneaking into the ruins of the old Smallpox hospital. Her childhood history on Roosevelt Island imbues Fire Through The Dry Grass with a sense of wonder and a hauntedness.

Last June, I asked NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's office: 

I'm following up on Mayor deBlasio's May 18 statement about conducting an investigation into the problems reported at Roosevelt Island's Coler Long Term Care and Skilled Nursing Facility.

What is the status of the investigation, has it been completed? If yes, what were the results?
A NYC Health & Hospitals Corp (NYC HHC) spokesperson replied today:
After careful review and interviews with patients and staff, NYC Health + Hospitals found the traveling nurse's allegations unsubstantiated. We take pride in the facility's top-ranked clinical services and the supportive environment it provides all its residents. Our staff care for residents with respect and compassion, treating them more like family than patients, and providing their loved ones with peace of mind. The facility remains committed to the health and safety of the resident population it serves - not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but always.
I followed up:
Was the investigation only for Traveling Nurses allegations at Roosevelt Medical Center?

Did investigation include conditions at Coler Skilled Nursing Facility too?

Do the conclusions also include any NY State investigation at Coler and Roosevelt Medical Center?

Is there a written report of the investigation that you can send to me?
and the NYC HHC spokesperson answered:
The investigation was comprehensive of the entire Coler campus -- RIMC and NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler. There ins't a sharable version of the report at this moment.
Still have not seen the report.

RSVP here to attend the Wednesday October 21 Virtual Sneak Preview and Conversation of Fire Through The Dry Grass to learn what happened at the Roosevelt Island Coler Nursing Facility during the early stages of Coronavirus Pandemic by the people who lived it.