Articles Posted in coronavirus

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An aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told lawmakers the administration “withheld data” about nursing home Covid-19 deaths.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing allegations of covering up the true death toll of the novel coronavirus pandemic in New York’s nursing homes, according to a new report by the New York Times. One of Cuomo’s aides, Melissa DeRosa, allegedly acknowledged in a conversation with state lawmakers that the Cuomo administration “withheld data because it feared an investigation by the Trump Justice Department,” saying in a virtual conference that when the Department of Justice sought data from the administration over the summer, “basically, we froze.”

The Times describes a partial transcript of the call in which DeRosa said further: “We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.” Continue reading

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New York’s nursing homes have suffered staffing shortages over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

A new report recently published by New York Attorney General Letitia James suggests that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order providing certain Covid-19 immunity provisions for nursing home and other healthcare providers may have incentivized nursing homes “to make financially-motivated decisions” that may have resulted in harm.

According to the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) report, the April 6th, 2020 executive order provided immunity to “to health care professionals from potential liability arising from certain decisions, actions and/or omissions related to the care of individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic retroactive to Governor Cuomo’s initial emergency declaration on March 7.” The statute excluded harm or damages “caused by an act or omission constituting willful or intentional criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm,” but the OAG notes that this section contains a loophole in which acts, omissions, or decisions “resulting from a resource or staffing shortage” were not included in the carveout. Continue reading

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New York Attorney General Letitia James recently released a report about the nursing home industry’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.

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Genesis HealthCare reportedly suffered financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.

Genesis HealthCare, one of the biggest nursing home chains in the United States, paid one of its executives a $5.2 million bonus even as it lost thousands of residents to Covid-19. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, Genesis paid George Hager Jr. the bonus in late October. He retired as the head of the chain on January 5, 2021. Though he will pay back part of the bonus, the Post reports, he will also “be reimbursed over the next two years,” and received payments totaling $950,000 from the company as he left.

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, “more than 300 Genesis nursing homes experienced 14,352 confirmed cases of covid-19 through mid-December,” according to the Post. A total of 2,812 nursing home residents had died from Covid-19 by December 20th. The Post also reports that Medicare data revealed that the company’s nursing homes “reported continuing shortages of personal protective equipment through the months of the pandemic,” an issue that only improved around the end of November 2020, after Genesis Healthcare’s board approved the $5.2 million bonus to Hager. Continue reading

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New York’s nursing homes reportedly did not enough enough PPE early in the coronavirus crisis.

A new report by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office found that some nursing home facilities in the state had inadequate personal protective equipment at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting their residents at increased risk of harm.

The report, released last week, notes that both state and federal laws mandate that nursing homes provide adequate infection control supplies to their staff and residents in order to protect them from the risk of contracting or spreading diseases like Covid-19. The Attorney General’s office found that some nursing homes failed to comply with these requirements, and that if these failures had not taken place, New York’s nursing homes may have experienced “better health outcomes” for their residents. Continue reading

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New York Attorney General Letitia James specifically criticized an immunity shield granted to the nursing home industry.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has called for state lawmakers to lift the partial immunity from civil lawsuits it gave to nursing home facilities early in the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by NBC New York. The immunity shield, granted in the spring of 2020, gave nursing homes as well as hospitals and other healthcare providers protection from civil suits as well as criminal prosecution.

Lobbyists behind the legislation described it as a means of protecting overextended healthcare providers, like nursing homes, from lawsuits that might cripple them for trying their best to care for patients during the pandemic. Over the summer, state legislators lifted some of the immunity provisions, specifically those regarding patients who didn’t have Covid-19. According to NBC News, “It has never applied to instances of gross negligence, intentional criminal or reckless misconduct.” Still, nursing home and other healthcare providers remained shielded from lawsuits or prosecutions over their Covid-19. Continue reading

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Officials and public health advocates have called for increased transparency from the state government about nursing home Covid-19 deaths.

A new report by New York Attorney General Letitia James found that the state may have undercounted nursing home Covid-19 fatalities by as much as 50%, and that nursing homes may be responsible for “nearly one in every three coronavirus fatalities in the state.” The report, released last week, found a litany of failures by nursing homes to implement infection prevention and control procedures, from failing to isolate nursing home residents infected with Covid-19 to failing to test staffers for the novel coronavirus.

According to the New York Post, Attorney General James said in a statement that “As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate… While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents.”

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The New York nursing home was cited for failing to ensure patients are not administered unnecessary psychotropic medication.

Elderwood at Williamsville suffered three confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of January 23, 2021, according to state records. The facility has also received 19 citations for violations of public health code between 2016 and 2020, according to New York State Department of Health records accessed on January 23, 2020. The Williamsville nursing home’s citations resulted from a total of three surveys by state inspectors. The deficiencies they describe include the following:

1. The nursing home did not adequately protect residents from accidents. Section 483.25 of the Federal Code requires nursing homes to ensure each resident environment is ‘as free of accident hazards as is possible.” A February 2019 citation found that Elderwood at Williamsville failed to ensure such. The citation states specifically that three resident units “had issues involving electric heating units in resident rooms with metal surfaces that were very hot to touch and were not shielded from resident access.” In an interview, the facility’s Director of Maintenance said that the nursing home “does not monitor the metal surface temperatures of wall-mounted electric heaters.” A plan of correction undertaken by the facility included the movement of resident beds away from the heaters.

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The Long Term Community Care Coalition’s report examined staffing levels at every nursing home in the United States.

A new report by the Long Term Community Care Coalition found that nursing homes are understaffed even as their resident populations shrink. The LTCCC published new data regarding staffing levels at every nursing home in the United States on January 22, 2021, with the goal of helping “the public, news media, and policymakers identify and assess the extent to which nursing homes in their communities provided sufficient staffing to meet basic clinical and quality of life needs.” The data is sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which collects information from nursing homes around the country. Continue reading

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A nursing home in Cheektowaga, New York has received 27 health citations in the last four years.

Elderwood at Cheektowaga suffered 18 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of January 23, 2021, according to state records. The facility has also received 27 citations for violations of public health code between 2016 and 2020, according to New York State Department of Health records accessed on January 23, 2020. The Cheektowaga nursing home’s citations resulted from a total of six surveys by state inspectors. The deficiencies they describe include the following:

1. The nursing home did not adequately prevent and control infection. Under Section 483.80 of the Federal Code, nursing homes are required to create and maintain an infection control program “designed to provide a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment and to help prevent the development and transmission of communicable diseases and infections.” A November 2019 citation found that Elderwood at Cheektowaga failed to ensure such. The citation states specifically that in one resident unit, dirty bed linens “were placed directly on the floor without a protective barrier,” and that in another unit, oxygen tubing “was observed directly on the floor during multiple observations,” all in contravention of facility policy. A plan of correction undertaken by the facility included the discarding of the tubing and the re-education of the staff member who placed dirty linens on the floor.

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