In late March, Dottie Hickey got a call from Luxor Nursing & Rehabilitation at Mills Pond, the nursing home where her sister lived. The 79-year-old was being moved to make space for incoming hospital patients recovering from coronavirus. Ms. Hickey was told the St. James, N.Y., facility had no choice but to take in these patients under a new state policy.
Ms. Hickey said that after a few days she struggled to reach staff for updates on her sister, and after repeated calls, one employee told her why. The nursing home was overwhelmed with cases of Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Coronavirus: 6,300 COVID-19 patients in New York were sent to nursing homes
The directive was intended to help free up hospital beds for the sickest patients as cases surged. But several relatives, patient advocates and nursing administrators who spoke to the AP at the time blamed the policy for helping to spread the virus among the state’s most fragile residents. To date, more than 6,400 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus in New York’s nursing home and long-term care-facilities.
Cuomo, a Democrat, reversed the directive under pressure on May 10, but he has argued for weeks that infected home workers, not released COVID-19 patients, were to blame for a coronavirus spread through nursing homes that he compared to “fire through dry grass.”