We’ve been doing a lot of coverage of the nursing home scandal in New York.
On March 25, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration ordered that nursing homes were required to accept people who had tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. He didn’t reverse the order until the outcry became too great to ignore on May 10.
So what did that actually mean? What kind of numbers are we talking about?
Well, the AP has figured out at least part of it and it’s astonishing that the death toll isn’t even greater, given what the Cuomo did.
More than 4,500 recovering coronavirus patients were sent to New York’s already vulnerable nursing homes under a controversial state directive that was ultimately scrapped amid criticisms it was accelerating the nation’s deadliest outbreaks, according to a count by The Associated Press.
AP compiled its own tally to find out how many COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals to nursing homes under the March 25 directive after New York’s Health Department declined to release its internal survey conducted two weeks ago. It says it is still verifying data that was incomplete.
Whatever the full number, nursing home administrators, residents’ advocates and relatives say it has added up to a big and indefensible problem for facilities that even Gov. Andrew Cuomo — the main proponent of the policy — called “the optimum feeding ground for this virus.”
Now, that’s not a complete number according to them and it doesn’t include people who may have been positive who were admitted not from a hospital.
The New York State Department of Health has refused to say exactly how many patients this actually involved. As we previously reported, once the scandal was exposed, they then began counting nursing home deaths differently, deliberately undercounting them by not including those who died in the hospital despite living and getting the virus in the nursing home.
New York claimed the purpose of the order was to relieve strain on the hospitals. But that’s why the federal government sent the Comfort and set up the Javits Center as temporary hospitals to take any overflow. They ended up being underused while the nursing homes were overwhelmed.
“It was the single dumbest decision anyone could make if they wanted to kill people,” Daniel Arbeeny said of the directive, which prompted him to pull his 88-year-old father out of a Brooklyn nursing home where more than 50 people have died. His father later died of COVID-19 at home.
“This isn’t rocket science,” Arbeeny said. “We knew the most vulnerable — the elderly and compromised — are in nursing homes and rehab centers.” [….]
The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, known as AMDA, had warned from the beginning that Cuomo’s order admitting infected patients posed a “clear and present danger” to nursing home residents. Now, Jeffrey N. Nichols, who serves on the executive committee of the group, said “the effect of that order was to contribute to 5,000 deaths.”
It’s actually now more than 5800 deaths.