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Investigation into nursing homes finds many issues ADVERTISEMENT

Investigation into nursing homes finds many issues

NEW YORK STATE-Attorney General Letitia James released a report, Thursday, Jan. 28, on her office's ongoing investigations into nursing homes' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the attorney general has been investigating nursing homes throughout New York state based on allegations of patient neglect and other concerning conduct that may have jeopardized the health and safety of residents and employees.
Among those findings were that a larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) published nursing home data reflected and may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent. The investigations also revealed that nursing homes' lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is the only law enforcement agency in the state specifically mandated to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of residents in nursing homes.
Based on reported information and subsequent investigation the OAG found that:
• Insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing home staff put residents at increased risk of harm;
• Insufficient COVID-19 testing for residents and staff in the early stages of the pandemic put residents at increased risk of harm;
• The current state reimbursement model for nursing homes gives a financial incentive to owners of for-profit nursing homes to transfer funds to related parties (ultimately increasing their own profit) instead of investing in higher levels of staffing and PPE;
• Lack of nursing home compliance with the executive order requiring communication with family members caused avoidable pain and distress; and

• Government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.

After the report was made public, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office referred all questions about the findings to the department of health. In a subsequent press conference, Cuomo said, "A third of all deaths in this nation are from nursing homes. New York state, we're only about 28 percent -- only -- but we're below the national average in the number of deaths in nursing homes...But who cares -- 33 [percent], 28 [percent] -- died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died."

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