At an April 23 press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded indignant when a reporter asked if anyone had objected to New York’s policy of forcing nursing homes to admit recently discharged COVID-19 patients.
“They don’t have the right to object,” Cuomo answered before the reporter finished his question. “That is the rule, and that is the regulation, and they have to comply with it.”
New York isn’t the only state to adopt a policy ordering long-term care facilities to admit COVID-19-infected patients discharged from hospitals. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California —three states also hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus —passed similar policies to free up hospital beds to make room for sicker patients.
The practice is coming under increased scrutiny by health experts and family members of deceased patients who say the orders needlessly put the most susceptible populations at risk.
“The whole thing has just been handled awfully… by everybody in regard to nursing homes,” said Kathleen Cole, a nurse who recently lost her 89-year-old mother who lived at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck, New York:
“It’s like a slaughterhouse at these places.”
Cole, who shared her story with the Bucks County Courier Times, told the paper her mother, Dolores McGoldrick, became infected with COVID-19 on April 2 after Ferncliff re-admitted a resident who had been discharged in late March. Two weeks later her mother, a former school teacher, was dead.
McGoldrick is one of nearly five thousand COVID-19 victims who died in New York nursing homes, according to new figures from The New York Times. New York’s high nursing home death toll is not an outlier. California recently released data showing that some 40 percent of California’s COVID-19 fatalities have come from eldercare homes. In Pennsylvania, nursing homes account for 65 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Both states, like New York, had orders in place that required nursing homes to admit recently released COVID-19 patients. – READ MORE
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