Governor: all nursing home staff must be tested twice weekly for Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 May 2020 at 2:23 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced new rules for nursing homes during the Coivd-19 pandemic. All nursing home staff must be tested at least twice weekly for the virus.

Hospitals also cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home until that patient has tested negative for Covid-19.

The governor has been criticized for a policy that required nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients. But the governor said the media has done a “disservice” in its reporting on the issue.

Cuomo said nursing homes were only required to accept Covid-19 residents if the nursing homes could properly care for them. The staff needed to have enough personal protective equipment, they needed to be able to isolate patients, and staff caring for Covid-19 positive residents shouldn’t then care for residents who were negative for the virus.

About 5,000 nursing home residents have died in the state from Covid-19, including 17 in Orleans County at a nursing home in Albion. Cuomo said the state has the highest number of nursing home residents in the nation at 101,518.

If a nursing home can not provide adequate care for Covid-positive residents then they must transfer the resident. “Period,” the governor said today.

That was always the directive and that remains the requirement from the state, Cuomo said during his daily news conference.

If a nursing home fails to follow the directive from the state, it will lose its license, Cuomo said.

The governor said hospitals now have plenty of capacity to treat Covid patients and shouldn’t feel pressure to discharge patients so more beds can be available. Keeping those patients in hospitals until they test negative will ease the burden on nursing homes, Cuomo said.

Nursing homes, if they can’t meet the state standards for care, should call the Department of Health which will find a facility for any the Covid-19 positive person.

“It’s not like a situation where there are no options,” Cuomo said. “We have options and we want to use them. So if there’s any reason why you can’t provide appropriate care let us know and we will put them in a facility that has it.”

UPDATED at 3:55 p.m.: The Governor’s Office released more detailed information about the new directives:

• The Executive Order mandates that all nursing homes and adult care facilities test all personnel for Covid-19 two times per week and report any positive test results to the State Department of Health by the next day. The Executive Order also mandates that hospitals cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless that patient tests negative for Covid-19.

• All nursing home and adult care facility administrators will be required to submit a plan on how they will accomplish this testing and a certificate of compliance with this Executive Order to the State Department of Health by Friday,  May 15.

• Any nursing home or adult care facility found to be in violation of the Executive Order may have its operating certificate suspended or revoked or may be subject to a penalty for non-compliance of $2,000 per violation per day. Additionally, any personnel who refuse to be tested for Covid-19 will be considered to have outdated or incomplete health assessments and therefore will be prohibited from working in the nursing home or adult care facility until testing is performed.

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