New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a report stating the state’s dept. of health undercounted COVID deaths in nursing homes by up 50% and details that infamous March 25th order by self-proclaimed COVID hero Governor Andrew Cuomo directing “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. Nursing homes are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 before admission or re-admission.”
Per the report (embedded below), between March 25, when the order was issued to May 8, when it was rescinded, 6,326 hospital patients were admitted to 310 nursing homes. “The peak single day in reported nursing home COVID-19 deaths was April 8, with 4,000 reported deaths occurring after that date.”
Cuomo’s order put patients at”some facilities” in danger. The report says some, only because they couldn’t figure out the rest. The reason for the lack of transparency was also Cuomo’s order, “which also prohibited nursing homes from requiring COVID-19 testing as a criterion for admission.”
As reported by this site previously, one of the reasons deaths were undercounted was unlike other states, New York will not count a CoronaVirus death as a nursing home death if the patent has left the premises before they pass. For example, if a patient catches China Virus while living in a New York State nursing home and is sent to a hospital where they die, it does not count as a nursing home death.
Preliminary data obtained by OAG suggests that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in DOH’s published total nursing home death data.
But it was just the strange way of counting deaths, some of the difference was attributed to nursing home mistakes:
Preliminary data also reflects apparent underreporting to DOH by some nursing homes of resident deaths occurring in nursing homes. In fact, the OAG found that nursing home resident deaths appear to be undercounted by DOH by approximately 50 percent.
OAG asked 62 nursing homes (10 percent of the total facilities in New York) for information about on-site and in-hospital deaths from COVID-19. Using the data from these 62 nursing homes, OAG compared: (1) in-facility deaths reported to OAG compared to in-facility deaths publicized by DOH, and (2) total deaths reported to OAG compared to total deaths publicized by DOH.
Other reasons for the high amount of nursing home deaths in NY per the A.G. included:
- Lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm;
- Nursing homes that entered the pandemic with low U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates;
- 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;
The AG admonished nursing home management for the lack of compliance with the executive order requiring communication with family members caused avoidable pain and distress.
The investigations aren’t over the “OAG is conducting ongoing investigations into more than 20 nursing homes across the state whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concern. Other law enforcement agencies also have ongoing investigations relating to nursing homes.” And based on the continuing high number of cases in NYS, the danger to seniors isn’t over either.
The bottom line is that this report embedded below confirms two important points.
- Nursing home deaths were much higher than reported.
- Cuomo’s March 25th order resulted in a higher amount of nursing home deaths than would have happened without the order.
While Cuomo’s order wasn’t the only reason for the higher death rates, many of the other reasons resulted from the lack of enforcement of health rules by departments that Cuomo and his administration managed.
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