New nursing home policies include testing nurses twice a week, end of discharging patients unless they test negative

In a major reversal, hospitals in New York are now banned from discharging patients to nursing homes unless they first tested negative for COVID-19.

News 12 Staff

May 11, 2020, 7:08 PM

Updated 1,535 days ago

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In a major reversal, hospitals in New York are now banned from discharging patients to nursing homes unless they first tested negative for COVID-19.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been saying since the beginning of the pandemic that nursing home patients are some of the most vulnerable among us when it comes to COVID-19. But on Sunday, he issued an executive order he now says will protect seniors and staff in nursing homes and care facilities.
Cuomo says nursing staff will be tested twice a week, and positive results have to be reported the next day to the state Health Department. Anyone who refuses to be tested won't be allowed to work.
Stephen Hanse, CEO of the state's Health Facilities Association, says that would mean about 320,000 tests a week.
"We have concerns about whether or not there are enough tests, we have concerns about the capability of the labs to process the these tests in a timely manner," says Hanse.
Hanse adds that there are concerns about where those tests will be done. He says many who work in nursing homes and care facilities take public transportation, so a drive-by site might not be the best option.
The new rules also mean that hospitals can no longer discharge a patient to a nursing home, unless that patient tests negative for the virus.
"Having these protocols in place earlier certainly would have been helpful, both on a state and on a national level," says Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition. "Just having a better idea of, look we knew from before it hit our shores that residence in nursing homes would be particularly vulnerable because of their age, because of their medical frailty, so steps should have been taken immediately."
Cuomo says if nursing home operators do not follow the new rules, they could be fined or lose their license.
Lorry Sullivan says she is concerned Cuomo's order might not go far enough, especially after her 89-year-old mother died at a West Islip nursing home after testing positive for COVID-19.
"If we can't transfer them there anymore because they can't be taken care of properly, you have to help the ones that are in there," says Sullivan.
 
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