The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it will not continue an investigation opened last year into nursing home deaths in several states, most notably New York. For those that have lost loved ones, like Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean, it’s a disappointing outcome.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Dean said to The Daily Citizen. “But the investigations continue here in New York and are perhaps the more damning ones. The DOJ investigation was a springboard to all of these investigations in New York.
“I feel bad for the other states, like Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. If they don’t have any investigations into nursing homes, where are they going to get accountability?”
It started last year when Governor Andrew Cuomo came under fire for a policy that forced nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients and house them with healthy elderly individuals, the vast majority of whom were especially vulnerable to the newly emerged virus. Other states had similar initiatives.
For family members who have loved ones in nursing homes, the information was shocking. When a grandparent is struggling to take care of themselves or need some additional extra help, many Americans rely on nursing homes to help provide some additional support and care, often with oversight from dedicated children and grandchildren who visit in order to ensure that they are receiving the help they need.
But when COVID hit, the protection of elderly family members were seemingly of little concern to certain state leaders. Some secretly started to put COVID-positive patients with healthy ones, which defied all logic as the elderly are most at risk of dying from COVID.
Though the DOJ may have dropped the case, New York Attorney General Leticia Jones still has an outstanding investigation into this situation, one that Dean and others hope will finally produce some results and provide some justice for those who lost family members.
“The attorney general’s report is supposed to come out this summer or early fall,” Dean explained. Not only are nursing homes included in that investigation, but other potential problematic policies and personal actions as well of the governor.
“So, there’s all sorts of other tentacles that have come out of this nursing home debacle and nursing home tragedy into this governor’s behavior throughout the pandemic and beforehand,” she said.
In many ways, that’s the crux of the matter. Relatives of those who died throughout the country deserve answers as to why their elderly loved ones, who were incredibly vulnerable to the virus and entrusted into the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility, were deliberately exposed to sick patients through government orders in certain states.
“There’s so much frustration, so much anger and so much grief,” Dean shared, who lost both of her in-laws within weeks during the initial months of the pandemic. “You know, we weren’t able to have funerals or wakes. We weren’t able to see our loved ones before they died.”
It’s not only COVID that put the elderly at risk, but since family members could not visit it was impossible to oversee and visit with loved ones, which led some to die from neglect. It’s incredibly tragic.
“And, yes, there’s the other piece of it, that there was tremendous amount of neglect because the nursing homes didn’t have many people helping out. I don’t know if these people are ever going to get answers, and I think there has to be lawsuits.”
Dean has inquired into that possibility, but the grief over the loss of her in-laws is still there.
“It’s tough. I’m not going to lie. It’s very tough. But what can we do as citizens to try and get accountability if our government won’t help us?” Dean asked.
Holding government officials accountable has not been easy during this pandemic, as state and federal governments seem to wield more power than ever before. But Dean did have the support of Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise, who is fighting on behalf of nursing home victims’ families.
“It’s crucial,” Dean said of Rep. Scalise’s support. “I’m one voice and luckily I have the power of the place that I work, which I’m so grateful for. But we really need our representatives to speak up on behalf of those that don’t have a voice. So, I am so thankful to Rep. Scalise for using his voice.
“And Assemblyman Ron Kim here in New York, who is a Democrat, got brave and stood up for what is right. He lost an uncle in a nursing home, so it’s personal for him. It’s very important. We need a chorus of people to speak up on behalf of those we lost.”
Sadly, this story of nursing home deaths has not received the type of media attention that it deserves. In fact, the loss of these matriarchs and patriarchs of the family have been mostly ignored by the mainstream media.
“I think you look at how a country treats their elderly, and it’s just atrocious that this story isn’t bigger news,” Dean said. “I think it’s the biggest story, certainly in New York of the pandemic. Losing at least 15,000 lives and not getting any answers as to why it happened. We need a real investigation so that this does not happen again.
“I’ve always said, ‘I’m so glad it wasn’t our children, but what if it was over 15,000 children? Would people care then?’ These are human beings. These men and women are our greatest generation. And it’s really sad that the media and our government representatives could care less.”
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