By Joel B. Pollak – 4/30/2020
New York State officials allowed nursing home employees infected with coronavirus to continue to work and to treat residents at the Hornell Gardens facility in rural Steuben County, according to a New York Post report.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come under increasing scrutiny for a March 25 directive ordering nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients. The text of the directive 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.”
Cuomo has since said that nursing homes could tell the state Department of Public Health they could not accept such patients, or transfer them to other facilities. However, some homes have said that the state was unresponsive when they reached out, and that they felt intense pressure to accept the patients — despite the unique risk coronavirus generally poses to elderly people.
The Post reported Thursday:
The state Health Department allowed nurses and other staff who tested positive for the coronavirus to continue treating COVID-19 patients at an upstate nursing home, The Post has learned.
State officials signed off on the move during an April 10 conference call that excluded local officials from Steuben County, who protested the move, according to a document provided by the county government’s top administrator, Jack Wheeler.
At least 15 people have died at the Hornell Gardens nursing home in the tiny town of Hornell since the outbreak, according to county tallies. State records show just seven deaths across the county and include no data about this home.
Roughly one third of the staff and residents at the home have contracted the virus, the Post added.
Last week, Steuben County reported that 73% of its 33 coronavirus deaths at the time had been linked to nursing homes.