Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living, issued the following statement in response to rising number of COVID-19 outbreaks and fatalities in New York’s nursing homes and assisted living communities:
“We continue to be deeply concerned about the high mortality rate and how widespread COVID-19 has become in long-term care facilities and our collective hearts ache for those who have lost loved ones to this insidious virus.
“Nursing homes and assisted living providers are among the most heavily regulated industries in our state. Throughout this pandemic, nursing homes and assisted living providers have been following the governor’s executive order and notifying designated family members or next of kin within 24 hours if any resident tests positive for COVID-19, or if any resident suffers a COVID-19-related death. Moreover, nursing homes have been closely adhering to both DOH and CDC directives and policies.
“Outbreaks of COVID-19 are not the result of inattentiveness or shortcomings in our facilities. The very nature of long-term care is a high-touch environment where social distancing is not an option in providing care. Staff are hands-on helping residents with bathing, dressing, eating and other personal daily needs.
“From the onset of this pandemic, nursing homes and assisted living providers and their residents have not been treated as a top priority for assistance with staffing, PPE shortages and COVID-19 testing.
“This was clearly evidenced by the state’s March 25 policy mandating that nursing homes admit hospital patients into their facilities that have a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. This treacherous virus spreads through nursing homes like fire through dry grass and the state’s March 25 policy served to unnecessarily fan the flames of this fire.
“The governor stated that nursing homes are the state’s No. 1 concern. This declaration must be followed up with full support and assistance from the state in the form of increased help in securing staff, needed PPE and priority testing for our residents and employees.
“Nursing homes and hospitals are all highly regulated mission driven organizations. It is wrong for the state to single out nursing homes and say they are ‘private companies,’ and as such, nursing homes are on their own to secure needed PPE to safeguard their residents and staff.
“We must work together in close partnership and coordination with the governor and the DOH to protect our residents and defeat this virus. We are counting on the governor’s leadership and hope all New Yorkers rally around long term care residents and caregivers.”
Attorney General James Statement on Protecting Nursing Home Residents
Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement in response to efforts to protect nursing home residents in New York amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis:
“We recognize that the most vulnerable New Yorkers are continuing to suffer through this crisis at nursing homes across the state. While our Medicaid fraud control unit continues to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect in the system, we launched a hotline where residents, families, or members of the public can share complaints about nursing homes that have not provided required communications with families about COVID-19 diagnoses or fatalities. The hotline will also accept complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect, including failure to follow rules to keep residents safe.
“Every nursing home should be provided with adequate PPE and testing, and enhanced infection control protocols must be implemented to protect residents. I am grateful to the workers in our nursing homes who continue to serve and support our vulnerable residents. These workers deserve our respect and must also be tested and protected during this time. My office will continue to work hard to protect residents of nursing homes and make sure their rights are preserved during this crisis and beyond.”
Individuals can file confidential complaints about nursing homes to the OAG online or by calling 833-249-8499.