New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the state’s Department of Health would partner with its Attorney General, Letitia James, to probe nursing home facilities in the state that violate executive orders requiring them to release data about COVID-19 test results and fatalities to the families of their residents.
According to a press release, the governor also ordered nursing homes “to immediately report to DOH the actions they have taken to comply with all DOH and CDC laws, regulations, directives and guidance.” The governor warned that the DOH would perform inspections of facilities noncompliant with these orders, including those that concern “separation and isolation policies, staffing policies and inadequate personal protective equipment.” Facilities found to be in noncompliance will be ordered to submit plans of correction, and may be subject to fines of $10,000 per violation or the revocation of their operating licenses.
These orders follow earlier orders by the governor that required nursing homes to provide staff with personal protective equipment and temperature checks; to place COVID-positive residents in isolation; to separate staff, and to transfer COVID-positive residents “within a facility to another long-term care facility or to another non-certified location”; to inform residents and relatives within 24 hours of positive COVID tests or COVID-related deaths; and to readmit residents with COVID-19 only in cases where the facility can provide adequate care in accordance with CDC and DOH guidelines.
Per the press release, Governor Cuomo also announced the state’s increase in staffing through its state-operated staffing portal, and an expansion of training and technical support for nursing homes using the portal. They stated as well that the state would give facilities personal protective equipment “on an emergency basis.”
Governor Cuomo said in a statement: “Nursing homes have been our top priority since day one, and the state has put in place very strict rules and regulations during this crisis to protect and support both vulnerable residents and frontline workers in these facilities. These facilities have become the optimum feeding ground for the virus, and the State Department of Health is going to partner with Attorney General Letitia James to ensure nursing homes are following the rules we’ve put in place and properly caring for and protecting our seniors as we continue to fight this virus.”
Attorney General James’s statement said in part: “Every nursing home should be provided with adequate PPE and testing, and enhanced infection control protocols must be implemented to protect residents. I am grateful to the workers in our nursing homes who continue to serve and support our vulnerable residents. These workers deserve our respect and must also be tested and protected during this time.”
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.