‘Nursing homes are our top priority’ – Gov. Cuomo

Staff Reports Posted 23 April 2020 at 6:00 pm

Department of Health, Attorney General will investigate nursing home violations during pandemic; Facilities face $10K fines per violation and could lose license

(Photo by Mike Groll/Office of the Governor: Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room today at the State Capitol.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the State Department of Health is partnering with Attorney General Letitia James to investigate nursing homes who violate Executive Orders requiring these facilities to communicate COVID-19 test results and deaths to residents’ families.

About 3,500 residents in nursing homes in the state have died from COVID-19, about 25 percent of the total deaths in the state from the virus.

The Governor also announced a new directive requiring nursing homes to immediately report to DOH the actions they have taken to comply with all DOH and CDC laws, regulations, directives and guidance.

DOH will inspect facilities that have not complied with these directives, including separation and isolation policies, staffing policies and inadequate personal protective equipment, and if DOH determines that the facilities failed to comply with the directives and guidance, DOH will immediately require the facility to submit an action plan. Facilities could be fined $10,000 per violation or potentially lose their operating license.

“Nursing homes are our top priority,” Cuomo said today during a news conference in Albany. “They have been from day one.”

The nursing homes are private facilities regulated by the state government.

“There are certain rules and regulations that they must follow and we put in additional rules and regulations on nursing homes in the midst of this crisis,” Cuomo said. “Staff must have appropriate PPE. They must have their temperatures checked before they come into the facility. There are no visitors who are coming into the facility which is a tremendous hardship but it’s necessary to protect public health. If they have a COVID-positive person in the facility that person has to be in quarantine. They have to have several staff for the COVID residents versus the non-COVID residents.”

The nursing homes must notify all residents and their family members within 24 hours if any resident tests positive for COVID or if any resident suffers a COVID-related death; and readmit COVID positive residents only if they have the ability to provide adequate level of care under DOH and CDC guidelines.

“If they do not have the ability to provide the appropriate level of care then they have to transfer that patient or they call the Department of Health and the Department of Health will transfer that patient,” Cuomo said.

Additionally, Cuomo and Attorney General James announced New York State will increase staffing through the New York state professional staffing portal and expand training and technical assistance for nursing homes to use the professional staffing portal.

The State will also continue to provide PPE to these facilities on an emergency basis, and families of nursing home residents who are concerned about the care they are getting can file complaints by calling 833-249-8499 or by visiting www.ag.ny.gov/nursinghomes.

“These facilities have become the optimum feeding ground for the virus, and the State Department of Health is going to partner with Attorney General Letitia James to ensure nursing homes are following the rules we’ve put in place and properly caring for and protecting our seniors as we continue to fight this virus,” Cuomo said.

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