New York State legislature holds its last virtual hearing on COVID and health care facilities

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Albany, NY – The New York State legislature is holding its second and last scheduled virtual hearing today on COVID-19 and residential health care facilities.

NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on what those in the field say have been big challenges during the pandemic, and what others are still looking to get answers on.

((Steven Hanse, New York State Health Facilities Association)) The asymptomatic spread, and the lack of testing were the most significant key factors in our facilities.

Steven Hanse with the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living says at the height of the pandemic nursing homes also faced shortages of PPE.

((Jim Clyne, Leading Age New York)) Nursing homes in April, in one of the busier weeks were going through 12 million pieces of PPE per week. That’s a lot of gloves gowns, masks, shields.

Hanse says rural facilities have seemed to have felt the weight of PPE and staff shortages more than urban ones.

((Steven Hanse, New York State Health Facilities Association)) We have in rural counties significant, tremendous staffing shortages. CNAs and LPNs.

What we have seen and we saw this prior to the pandemic were that LPNs who had traditionally worked in nursing homes were beginning to work more and more in hospitals because hospitals given their reimbursement rate can always financially pay more.

According to a report put out by the state department of health, there have been about 6,400 nursing homes deaths. But, if a nursing home resident dies due to COVID in a hospital, they’re not counted as a nursing home death.

That death information was sought by lawmakers at last week’s hearing from the state health commissioner.

The commissioner said he would share that information with lawmakers after he was able to look through it.

Today he was a no show.

((Tom O’mara, NYS Senator)) I will join my colleagues in my disappointment that Commissioner Zucker has not been recalled to complete his testimony, that he was woefully unprepared for last Monday.

Republicans continue to call for an independent investigation or a “separate body with subpoena power” to study the issue nursing home deaths in the state.

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