Possibly to save his skin from the still unfurling Nursing Home goof-up last year, Cuomo, and his administration silently set up 19 “COVID-only” nursing homes throughout the state to treat patients recovering from the virus who are discharged from hospitals.
The introduction of these nursing homes was revealed on Wednesday by State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in a 16-page letter sent to the state legislature, which was his response to a series of questions submitted by lawmakers who chair committees overseeing nursing homes.
“Starting in November the Department launched an effort to establish COVID-only nursing homes…The homes were established to allow the transfer of MEDICALLY STABLE, BUT persistently positive COVID-19 nursing home eligible patients from Article 28 hospitals to these nursing homes to further their recovery prior to discharge to home or another nursing home,” Zucker said in his response to legislators.
Zucker said there are 19 COVID-only nursing home sites scattered across all regions of the state, containing a total of 1,941 beds “to meet the needs of this special population.” He did not specify which nursing homes are used as COVID-only facilities.
In the letter, Zucker said 13,297 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19. The number jumps to 15,049 when including fatalities from other long-term care facilities such as assisting living and adult day care centers. Zucker also said the state spent more than $12 billion to address the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes and hospitals, mostly aid provided by the federal government. Nearly $9.2 billion went to hospitals and $520 million to nursing homes.
The letter came after an intense meeting between Zucker and lawmakers, who accused the health official and Cuomo of “stonewalling” them for months by failing to disclose the complete count of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19. Others had accused Zucker of being a Cuomo ”puppet” and liar.”
Speaking about the meeting, in particular, Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) said, “I don’t think the meeting was particularly productive. I don’t think we got the answers to our questions but the governor’s people have said they would welcome getting back to them with follow-up questions and we plan to do that and hopefully that will bring out more information.”