Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus nursing home policy has proved to be tragic, NY Post’s Michael Goodwin explains.
At least 4,813 people have died from COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes since March 1, according to a tally released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration late Monday.
NY Post’s Michael Goodwin says this accounts for “nearly 25 percent of all deaths in New York. More than 2,000 of the total are in the five boroughs, and officials acknowledge that the real numbers are almost certainly higher.”
The New York policy is “especially odd,” Goodwin notes, because the first large outbreak of the virus in the United States reportedly took place in a nursing home at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash. It reported 13 deaths to the virus before March 11th.
Governor Cuomo is facing criticism over his administration’s role in overseeing and supporting New York’s overwhelmed, state-regulated nursing homes.
Many have struggled to treat COVID-19 patients, the report notes, and there has not been enough personal protective gear or ensure adequate staffing.
In particular, severl veterans home have been especially hard-hit by the virus. This includes the Long Island State Veterans Home has reported 53 deaths, including 48 confirmed and five presumed COVID-19 deaths.
New York State Veterans Home at Montrose in Westchester says 22 residents have died.
The New York State Veterans Home at St. Albans in Queens has reported 33 deaths.
Cuomo promised on March 2nd to make a “special effort” for nursing homes and congregate homes housing senior citizens.
The state directed nursing homes to screen visitors and consider modifying visiting hours on March 6, and later suspended visits to nursing homes statewide March 12.
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Parker Jewish Institute in Queens and Isabella Geriatric Center — one of New York City’s largest nursing homes with 705 beds — have reported the highest number of deaths: 71 and 64, respectively…
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Advocacy groups for the elderly and family members of nursing home residents have called for greater transparency over COVID-19 cases at each state-regulated nursing home and criticized an April 1 state law granting some immunity to hospitals and nursing homes from civil and criminal liability. They also questioned the state’s March 25 policy that says “no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
The governor and his administration have defended that policy as ensuring nursing home residents aren’t left lingering in hospitals or without anywhere else to go. Cuomo’s spokesman tweeted Monday that the policy follows federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance. But the federal guidance says only that a nursing home “can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID-19” so long as the nursing home can follow federal guidance on transmission precautions.
Cuomo has also said the state has facilities that can house transferred COVID-19 nursing homes patients, and he recently said that nursing homes that tell the state up-front that they can’t care for a COVID-19 patient wouldn’t face regulatory scrutiny. His administration hasn’t responded to a request for questions on the state’s current capacity to care for COVID-19 nursing home residents and whether nursing homes were informed.