Last week New York Governor Kathy Hochul met with the children of nursing home residents who died during the Covid-19 pandemic and apologized for the state’s handling of the crisis, according to reports by local news outlets. In a press conference the next day, she reportedly said, “I apologized for the pain that those poor families had to endure.”
At least 15,000 residents of long-term care facilities died of Covid-19, with a January report by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleging that the state government “under-counted reported nursing home COVID deaths by as much as 50%,” according to ABC News. One attendee of the meeting at Hochul’s office, Vivian Rivera Zayas, said she was “pleased with Hochul’s heartfelt overtures,” but hopes the state passes a bill that would create a compensation fund for the family of nursing home Covid-19 victims. Rivera Zayas’s mother Ana died in 2020 at a nursing home locate din Long Island.
Hochul reportedly acknowledged that her staff was in discussion with families about the victims’ compensation fund, noting that it would require passage by the state legislature. “There will be an opportunity to honor their family members,” she said, according to CBS News. “They talked about the victim’s compensation fund with my staff and, again, this is something that has to be worked through with the Legislature, but they know we’re giving them a hearing, but also I already directed my staff this is not a one-off. I hold myself accountable.”
An editorial by The Daily Gazette, a publication serving New York’s Capital Region, argued that Hochul’s apology is “no substitute for action.” While it praised her long-awaited meeting with the victims’ families, the Gazette echoed those families’ demands for other measures of accountability, including an admission of culpability, a bipartisan investigation “with subpoena power” into the state’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, and the “release of all the nursing home data.”
“None of those are big asks,” the editorial concluded. “In fact, if the state was truly sorry for what it did, the governor should no problem honoring all of them.”
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.