New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing rising criticism over a controversial directive in March requiring the state’s nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients from hospitals, when few had the equipment or training to deal with those patients.
The directive, dated March 25, stated (original emphasis): “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
The New York Times reported Friday that “California, New Jersey and New York have made nursing homes accept Covid-19 patients from hospitals.” The Times added: “Although there is no evidence so far that the practice has allowed infections to spread in nursing homes, many residents and advocates fear that it is only a matter of time.”
And many say it has already taken its toll:
At the epicenter of the outbreak, New York issued a strict new rule last month: Nursing homes must readmit residents sent to hospitals with the coronavirus and accept new patients as long as they are deemed “medically stable.” California and New Jersey have also said that nursing homes should take in such patients. Homes are allowed to turn patients away if they claim they can’t care for them safely — but administrators say they worry that refusing patients could provoke regulatory scrutiny, and advocates say it could result in a loss of revenue.
In contrast to these states, Connecticut and Massachusetts designated certain facilities for Covid-19 patients alone — considered the safest way to free up hospital beds. The Washington Health Care Association, which represents long-term care facilities in Washington State, has asked officials to adopt a similar policy; so far, they have not.
“It’s got to happen,” said Robin Dale, the association’s president. “Then we would not have this hodgepodge of every nursing home in the state having one or two positives and crossing your fingers that it works out.”
One physical therapist who works in a nursing home told the Times: “Whoever made this decision, whoever did this, I consider this a sentence of death for all the older patients, whoever is in a nursing home.”
Conservative radio host and litigator Mark Levin noted Friday that he had been warned by a caller on March 26 that Gov. Cuomo had issued the directive requiring nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients. He was astonished at her story, and grew outraged as he learned that the caller — a medical director at a New York nursing home — had been 100% accurate.