Thousands More COVID-19 Patients Were Sent to New York Nursing Homes Than Previously Thought

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(NEW YORK) — More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus sufferers in New York state have been launched from hospitals into nursing properties early within the pandemic underneath a controversial directive that was scrapped amid criticism it accelerated outbreaks, in accordance to new data obtained by The Associated Press.

The new variety of 9,056 recovering sufferers despatched to a whole bunch of nursing properties is greater than 40% larger than what the state well being division beforehand launched. And it raises new questions as to whether or not a March 25 directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration helped unfold illness and loss of life amongst residents, a cost the state disputes.

“The lack of transparency and the meting out of bits of necessary information has undermined our means to each acknowledge the scope and severity of what’s happening” and tackle it, stated Richard Mollot, the manager director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, a residents advocacy group.

The new figures come because the Cuomo administration has been compelled in latest weeks to acknowledge it has been underreporting the overall number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents. It is now almost 15,000 up from the 8,500 beforehand disclosed.

The Cuomo administration’s March 25 directive barred nursing properties from refusing individuals simply because they’d COVID-19. It was meant to liberate area in hospitals swamped within the early days of the pandemic. It got here underneath criticism from advocates for nursing dwelling residents and their family, who stated it had the potential to unfold the virus in a state that on the time already had the nation’s highest nursing dwelling loss of life toll.

In its reply to an AP Freedom of Information request from May, the state well being division this week launched two figures: a previously disclosed count of 6,327 admissions of sufferers immediately from hospitals and a brand new rely of two,729 “readmissions” of sufferers despatched again from a hospital to the nursing dwelling the place they’d lived earlier than.

Before the state launched any information, the AP conducted its own survey and located at the very least 4,500 such sufferers.

Critics have lengthy argued there have been many different locations these sufferers might have been despatched, together with New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, which had been arrange as a makeshift hospital, and the USS Comfort army hospital ship. The state contends these amenities weren’t appropriate substitutes for the care of nursing properties.

Cuomo reversed the directive May 10, barring nursing properties from accepting COVID-19 sufferers with no detrimental check first.

State well being officers contend that asymptomatic nursing dwelling workers, not recovering COVID-19 sufferers, have been the driving think about nursing dwelling outbreaks. And they’ve repeatedly famous that by legislation, nursing properties weren’t supposed to settle for anybody they couldn’t adequately look after.

“At least 98% of nursing dwelling amenities within the state had COVID of their facility earlier than their first admission or readmission, and as we’ve seen throughout the nation, the main driver of infections seems to be from asymptomatic workers via no fault of their very own,” stated state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in an announcement to the AP.

He added that the March 25 directive adopted federal steering, and that the proportion of coronavirus deaths statewide that occurred in nursing properties didn’t change from the spring to the autumn — after the directive was reversed.

A frontrunner of a California group of nursing dwelling clinicians and directors, nonetheless, sees New York officers as in search of to shift blame.

“There has by no means been any query in my thoughts that sending COVID-19 sufferers into utterly unprepared, understaffed and underresourced nursing properties each elevated transmission and led to a larger variety of deaths,” stated Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine.

New York’s well being division in July launched a 33-page report, closely criticized by well being specialists and resident advocates, that stated sufferers despatched to properties posed little hazard to residents as a result of they’d spent a median 9 days on the hospitals — in keeping with federal steering on the time about how lengthy it took for individuals to cease being contagious.

While it could be unattainable to know whether or not the extra 2,729 sufferers factored within the virus’ transmission in nursing properties, “any coverage that’s applied that doesn’t do all the pieces it may possibly to safeguard COVID from coming right into a well being care facility has the potential to improve the unfold of the virus,” stated Stephen Hanse, president of a giant nursing dwelling group referred to as the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living.

The months-later disclosure “additional confirms the state’s flawed strategy in implementing a hospital-centric technique to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hanse stated.

Some states, together with Connecticut, arrange COVID 19-only nursing properties comparatively early on.

Zucker informed lawmakers in a letter this week that the state began working in November to set up COVID-only nursing properties for some “persistently optimistic” sufferers popping out of hospitals. There are actually 19 such properties statewide, totaling almost 2,000 beds.

Cuomo, who wrote a e-book about his management within the virus disaster, has repeatedly downplayed criticism of his administration’s dealing with of nursing properties as a politically motivated “blame sport.”

But the flurry of latest disclosures started final month after state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat, issued a blistering report accusing the administration of underreporting its long-term care deaths by greater than 50%.

That was in keeping with an AP report from August that centered on the truth that New York is without doubt one of the solely states that counts simply those that died on nursing dwelling property and never those that died after being transported to hospitals.

Under heavy strain to change its methodology, New York started issuing reviews in latest weeks that added 1000’s extra to its long-term care loss of life toll since March. The new information additionally confirmed that COVID-19 deaths at some nursing properties are double or extra what had been beforehand reported.

Overall, New York has misplaced over 45,000 individuals to the virus, greater than each different state besides California, in accordance to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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Associated Press author Jim Mustian contributed to this report.

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