As many increasingly see New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 25 directive ordering nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals as one of the largest scandals of the coronavirus pandemic, a bipartisan group of New York state legislators are calling for an independent investigation into the debacle.
The original directive said, “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. Nursing homes are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident… to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
On May 13, The Daily Citizen reported Gov. Cuomo’s decision to reverse his original order and replace it with a new mandate requiring that hospital patients test negative for COVID-19 prior to being transferred to a nursing home. This was a complete reversal of his original directive which prohibited nursing homes from requiring a patient be tested for COVID-19 prior to admittance.
Now, New York state legislators are calling for an investigation into Gov. Cuomo’s March 25 nursing home order. The State Senate’s Republican Conference called for an investigation at the beginning of May.
“We have to ask the hard questions. We know that allowing COVID into a nursing home is an invitation for it to spread,” Senate Republican leader John Flanagan, R-East Northport, told Newsday.
In late April, Gov. Cuomo announced that the state of New York would launch an investigation into whether nursing homes were properly following state health directives. The investigation is a joint effort by the Department of Health and the state attorney general.
However, Democrat member of the New York State Assembly Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, told Newsday that he believed any investigation needs to be independent, and not commissioned by Gov. Cuomo.
“It’s fine to have the Health Department and the attorney general looking at what individual nursing homes are doing,” Assemb. Gottfried said. “But there needs to be a professional review of not only the industry as a whole but what the Department of Health has been doing, both leading up to this situation and in the midst of this situation. Certainly, it would be wrong for the Department of Health to be charged with examining itself.”
State Senator Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, told Newsday that the New York Legislature itself should investigate. “I strongly believe that the Legislature is one of the key entities that should look into this issue, which has devastated so many families across our state. It is imperative to hold public hearings as soon as possible to get to the bottom of what truly happened at our state’s nursing homes as the COVID-19 pandemic developed.”
Sen. Rivera did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
So far, no independent investigation has been launched.
Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo was pressed by reporters if he regretted the March 25 directive. He deflected and said, “They should ask President Trump.”
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Photo by Pat Arnow