The Horrible Effect of New York Policy Requiring Nursing Homes to Take Virus Patients

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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In this March 24, 2020 photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference against a backdrop of medical supplies at the Jacob Javits Center that will house a temporary hospital in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in New York. Amid an unprecedented public health crisis, the nation’s governors are trying to get what they need from the federal government – and fast. But often that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

We reported earlier in the week about the horrible New York policy that requires nursing homes to take patients who have tested positive with the Wuhan coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed he hadn’t known about the policy but his health commissioner confirmed it.

Cuomo made it worse by saying it wasn’t the responsibility of the state to provide PPE for the nursing homes, which is certainly legally true, but when you’re forcing them to take patients who have the virus, you’re setting up a disaster waiting to happen.

One Queens nursing home described what happened to them, although they spoke without names, fearful of retaliation from Cuomo for what they were revealing.

The nursing home which previously didn’t have any virus cases were forced to admit two virus patients from the hospital under this rule which has been in effect for about a month. An executive at the facility said on the same day they received the patients, they were shipped PPE and something else.

From NY Post:

“My colleague noticed that one of the boxes was extremely heavy. Curious as to what could possibly be making that particular box so much heavier than the rest, he opened it,” the exec told The Post Thursday.

“The first two coronavirus patients were accompanied by five body bags.”

Within days, three of the bags were filled with the first of 30 residents who would die there after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Health Department handed down its March 25 directive that bars nursing homes from refusing to admit “medically stable” coronavirus patients, the exec said.

Like clockwork, the nursing home has received five body bags a week — every week — from city officials.

“Cuomo has blood on his hands. He really does. There’s no way to sugarcoat this,” the health care executive added.

“Why in the world would you be sending coronavirus patients to a nursing home, where the most vulnerable population to this disease resides?”


Ironically, the executive said, it wasn’t the new patients being sent to them, 17 so far, who died, but the long term residents. “The rest of the people are dropping like flies — literally like flies — and most of them have been with us for years,” the exec explained.

Unfortunately, that experience was also repeated elsewhere including at a Manhattan nursing home.

They too got body bags with a shipment of PPE from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. An administrator there said they had not warning or ability to prepare, that previously they required tests showing negative before they accepted people.

“By the time I even got to the work the next day, I had phone calls, emails from just about every hospital in the area,” the administrator said. Previously, the person added, the facility had required “two negative test results before we’d even consider taking someone into the building.”

Officials at both nursing homes declined to have their names published because they feared retribution from Cuomo, who regulates them. The Post reviewed emails, state regulatory orders, other public documents and spoke to five employees across the two facilities to confirm their stories.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi called the complaints “disgusting” and claimed the nursing homes were “trying to deflect from their failures.”

But it’s a really simple thing: why would you send positive patients to places with the most at risk patients?


And might that play a part why so many of the New York deaths are related to nursing homes? The virus has killed at least 3,540 residents of New York’s nursing homes and adult care facilities as of Wednesday.

What’s even more problematic? New York is not the only place with this policy, as Mark Levin points out.

New York, New Jersey and California. All Democratic governors, all with a similar policy. Now, there may have been some argument, when they thought hospitals were going to be overwhelmed, even though it would still have been stupid. Nursing homes aren’t hospitals, they’re chronically understaffed and many have a lot of questions on a good day much less during a pandemic. But now, when there isn’t even that excuse about overwhelmed hospitals, why would still be doing this? Remember how callous Cuomo was about how it was stay at home or death to people pleading to come back, implying these people who wanted to be able to feed their families were risking killing people? Yet, his policy and that of the others is doing far more to endanger lives than anything done by people who would responsibly want to work to survive.

From New York Times:

Mina Ebrahem, 31, a physical therapist in New York City, works for agencies that have sent him to several nursing homes over the past month. All were admitting Covid-19 patients from hospitals while providing only limited protective equipment, he said. At one home, he helped check in new patients, about five a day. He said 90 percent of them had been treated for coronavirus symptoms at hospitals.

“Whoever made this decision, whoever did this, I consider this a sentence of death for all the older patients, whoever is in a nursing home,” he said.



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