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State Senate Republicans call for independent investigation on how nursing homes handled COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus has turned nursing homes into hot spots, and a call is now being made for New York to do more to protect their vulnerable residents.

News 12 Staff

May 6, 2020, 9:17 PM

Updated 1,507 days ago


The coronavirus has turned nursing homes into hot spots, and a call is now being made for New York to do more to protect their vulnerable residents.
Smithtown's AnnMarie Hawkins says she believes nursing homes overall were not prepared to take care of people like her 75-year-old father Alfred Bukofsky, who died due to the virus.
Hawkins says her two biggest complaints were that there wasn't enough staff to provide appropriate care and poor communication.
"He essentially died all alone without me ever saying goodbye to him," says Hawkins.
On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo complimented the way facilities were handling the pandemic.
"Those nursing homes and I've spoken with many of them and their staff, they're doing phenomenal work," said Cuomo.
The state attorney general and the Department of Health are already investigating, but Senate Republicans are calling for an independent investigation that does not include the Health Department.
"The Health Department should not be reviewing itself," says state Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan. "The Health Department is the catalyst and the cause of a number of the issues that are existing right now."
Watchdog groups like the Long Term Care Community Coalition point to the fact that New York is one of only a few states that has no minimum staffing requirements at nursing homes.
"And as a result of that we were particularly unprepared to meet the needs of residents coming into COVID-19," says Richard Mollot, of the community coalition. "Because our staffing tends to be lower than other states so residents were already at risk. And when COVID hit, it only exacerbated those long-standing problems in our nursing homes."
NYS Health Facilities Association President & CEO Stephen Hanse released a statement, saying: "We continue to be deeply concerned about the high mortality rate and how widespread COVID-19 has become in long-term care facilities and our collective hearts ache for those who have lost loved ones to this insidious virus...Nursing homes and assisted living facilities care for the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Outbreaks of COVID-19 are not the result of inattentiveness or shortcomings in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. As Governor Cuomo stated yesterday, 'nursing homes will always be a target for this virus.' The very nature of long-term care is a high touch environment where social distancing is not an option in providing hands-on care at the bedside...It is human nature to want to blame someone or something for the terrible toll the COVID-19 virus is inflicting on our residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities – for blame is a way to make sense of chaos. However, what is happening is not unique to New York and skilled nursing and assisted living providers are working closely with the State to safeguard our residents and staff as we battle this virus together. Together we will collectively overcome our present circumstances and create a stronger and safer future."

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