New York governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said that nursing homes are obligated to transfer coronavirus patients if they cannot provide “adequate care.”
“The obligation is on the nursing home to say, I can’t take a COVID-positive person,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “The regulation is common sense: if you can’t provide adequate care, you can’t have the patient in your facility and that’s your basic fiduciary obligation — I would say, ethical obligation — and it’s also your legal obligation.”
Cuomo’s March 25 executive order forbid nursing homes from rejecting Covid-positive patients or even testing prospective patients for Covid after they were released from the hospital.
“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 prior to admission or readmission,” the order states.
New York health commissioner Howard Zucker said at the Wednesday press briefing that he was not aware if the state’s Health Department had received any requests from nursing homes to transfer coronavirus patients to other facilities.
Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said on Saturday that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend that nursing homes admit coronavirus patients. Those guidlelines state, “nursing homes should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.”
“Not could. Should,” DeRosa said. “That is President Trump’s CMS and CDC…There are over a dozen states that did the exact same thing.”
The state has seen over 5,000 coronavirus deaths among nursing home residents. About 43 percent of all U.S. coronavirus deaths, or roughly 43,000 deaths as of Wednesday, have been recorded among residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
On Tuesday New York’s Health Department appeared to delete Governor Cuomo’s March executive order from its website.
Cuomo also signed legislation in April granting immunity to nursing home executives from coronavirus-related lawsuits. In 2018, the New York State Democratic Committee, which was involved in Cuomo’s primary race at the time, received a $1 million donation from health care lobbying group the Greater New York Hospital Association. The GNYHA represents several hospitals which own nursing homes.