A report by New York Attorney General Letitia James details allegations reported by nursing home employees that nursing homes in the state failed to protect their residents in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, ultimately finding that the coronavirus’s death toll in New York’s nursing homes may be significantly higher than figures reported by the state Health Department. Three of the ways nursing homes allegedly failed their patients, according to the report, were by failing to isolate Covid-19 patients, allowing communal activities, and implementing lax staff screening practices.
The Attorney General’s Office states that it “received several credible reports from concerned staff and family members that nursing homes failed to promptly isolate residents who they knew or presumed to have had COVID-19.” In one case, a Certified Nursing Assistant at a New York City for-profit nursing home described the facility treating residents who tested positive for the coronavirus “with Tylenol, without isolation, or any other specific respiratory care.” A member of that nursing home’s family council later reported to the Attorney General’s Office that they had received complaints the nursing home “was not properly sanitizing rooms of residents after they were transferred.” The Attorney General goes on to state that it received reports early in the pandemic of a facility with “a high number of resident deaths” that had failed to isolate residents. In another instance, the Office received an anonymous tip in May reporting that residents with Covid at a for-profit nursing home north of New York City “were intermingled with the general population for a period of time that allegedly ended in mid-May.”
Later in the report, the Attorney General’s Office states describes an allegation by the family member of a resident at a for-profit home in Long Island that the facility “was still operating communal dining,” an allegation the facility’s staff admitted to when contacted, saying that residents with dementia who were on aspiration precautions “were still being brought into the dining room for meals irrespective of COVID-19 status.” The staffers said that the facility was still implementing social distancing practices in which only one resident would sit at a table, and that “the decision to continue communal dining was made given the elevated levels of supervision required for residents at risk of aspirating.” The facility changed this policy after it was contacted by the Attorney General’s Office.
The report goes on to describe allegations it received that nursing homes in New York “did not properly screen staff members before allowing them to enter the facility to work with residents.” In one instance, a for-profit home north of New York City allegedly “failed to consistently conduct Covid-19 employee screening,” with some employees allegedly avoiding temperature checks and answering Covid-19 questionnaires “at times when the facility’s front entrance screening station had no employee present to conduct the screening, and when staff entered through a back entrance to the facility.”
The New York Attorney General Office’s report on nursing home Covid-19 practices can be found here.
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.