Former NY Gov. Calls for Fed Investigation Into Cuomo's Order Over Nursing Home Deaths

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

We’ve been doing a lot of reporting on the nursing home disaster in New York and finally, in the last couple of weeks, media has started asking questions about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s policy requiring nursing homes to take patients who have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.

When first asked about the policy, two weeks ago, Cuomo professed not to know about the policy.

On Tuesday, after local papers like the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal wrote searing pieces on the failure of the policy and thousands of deaths in the nursing homes, Cuomo was asked about the addition of 1700 more deaths to that list, bringing it up to at least 4,813, according to Michael Goodwin at the Post.

“I don’t know the details,” Cuomo said, asking an aide for information.

Seriously? This is the guy Democrats were touting as “presidential?”

This is the same guy giving detailed briefings every day, declaring how we must protect the elderly, invoking his mother Matilda, and he doesn’t know this?

Now, there’s new information today that not only were the nursing homes required to take patients who were positive for the virus, but that nursing home staff who tested positive were also returned to work in at least one instance.

State officials apparently permitted nurses and other staff who tested positive to continue working at the Hornell Gardens nursing home. There were virtually no deaths across the county the home is in, but now there are 15 people dead in the home since the outbreak. The State Health Department apparently allowed it, without consulting the local county officials.

From NY Post:

The state Health Department’s decision to allow coronavirus-positive nurses to continue working at Hornell Gardens came after two days of testing revealed that one in three of the facility’s residents and staff had the deadly virus. It came after officials reported three deaths at the facility, Wheeler said.

It’s insane that the Governor behind this is touted by the left for his handling of the virus. And it’s still going on.

The killer fifth paragraph still reads: “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to ­admission or readmission.”

Owners and managers said Tuesday they are not aware of any loosening of the policy. They also say that hospitals still are referring infected patients to them on a near-daily basis and they are expected to take them if they have an empty bed.

To them, the March 25 order was a death sentence. Some facilities say they had no deaths or even positive patients before that date, but many of both since, including among staff members.

Recall, too, the experience of Donny Tuchman, CEO of Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Health Center. On April 24, when his facility already had lost 55 patients, he showed reporters email exchanges with the Department of Health where he got no help when he asked for relief. Even his ­request to have some of the ­COVID-19 patients sent to the Javits Center or the Navy ship Comfort, both of which were well below capacity, was rejected.

So, what has Cuomo done in response? Besides saying he was unaware of the problem?

Cuomo’s office claimed that the state policy was following federal policy which said no such thing.

But at least now he’s investigating, right? According to Goodwin, he’s threatened to go after the nursing homes who were the victims of the order.

On other days, Cuomo threatened to remove the facilities’ licenses and warned them against committing perjury in their death reports.

Flexing his power to punish them, he launched, with the state attorney general, an investigation of the facilities.

For the owners and staffs, the threats were a warning to be silent and the investigation is a bid to pin the blame for thousands of deaths on them.

Um, media? This is why the folks at the nursing home were afraid to complain, they feared retaliation.

Cuomo noted that he tried to keep visitors from the homes in the last two months. That’s true. So the families couldn’t see their loved ones before they died. But meanwhile, it’s cool to send virus patients there.

Former New York Governor George Pataki, a Republican, but a pretty moderate fellow not given to partisan attack, was just horrified by all this, called it a disgrace and called for a federal investigation.

From Fox News:

“New York’s policies with nursing homes is incomprehensible … The Comfort had hundreds of beds waiting to take coroanvirus-positive patients,” Pataki said. “In the nursing homes, where the weakest of the aged [and] the most vulnerable were put together, [they] were required to take corona positive patients. It is an incomprehensible policy, and I think someone should look into it.”

State senators have also joined the call for an independent investigation, including Sen. Tom O’Mara, who represents the area where the Hornell home is.

I can attest to our collective frustration with the response of the Cuomo administration to taking control of our nursing home hot spots. We repeatedly called for aggressive and decisive actions by the state Health Department to test, isolate, and prevent spread. I believe an independent investigation into this particular aspect of New York’s COVID-19 response is warranted and necessary for the families who have lost loved ones, the caregivers putting themselves at risk, and to ensure better and safer policies moving forward.”