Virus Outbreak Nursing Homes

A patient is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical workers April 17, 2020, outside Cobble Hill Health Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The nursing home has seen multiple deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.

(The Center Square) – There is a developing movement in the state Senate to hold hearings on the thousands of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in New York’s state-regulated nursing homes.

“We are finalizing dates for two hearings on nursing homes and Covid and will be announcing them shortly,’’ Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, recently told The Buffalo News.

In late March, Gov. Cuomo said he ordered nursing homes to admit recovering coronavirus patients based on federal health guidelines, but federal officials deny that.

Cuomo recently went on a public radio station in Albany to defend himself, blaming his opponents for turning this issue into “pure politics.”

“They don’t want to talk about what the federal government did on [COVID-19]," he said. "So they want to attack the Democrats for nursing home deaths. It’s just the same M.O., just distract, you know, create a shiny object to take attention off what they don’t want you to focus on.’’

Cuomo’s defense has reignited calls for state legislative hearings to determine what went wrong.

“Many observers believe government policies and provider practices, both COVID-specific and those in place before it, contributed to poor COVID outcomes in nursing homes,’’ Richard Gottfried, Assembly Health Committee chairman, told Buffalo News. “I hope we can look at issues around staffing levels, adequacy of health and safety enforcement, access to medical supplies and the impact of regulations during the state of emergency.”

In response to Cuomo’s argument that some Republicans are turning this into “pure politics,” Sen. James Tedisco recently proposed an independent review by medical experts.

“[I] proposed legislation for a bipartisan independent investigation into the deaths of 6,200 nursing home residents so we can take the politics out of this issue and allow a commission made up of health care policy experts to examine what happened,” Tedisco told The Daily Gazette. “I don’t think there can be enough entities reviewing this issue and sharing conclusions for full and total transparency about the decision-making leading to the deaths of over 6,200 residents.”