TODAY'S PAPER
47° Good Afternoon
47° Good Afternoon
NewsHealthCoronavirus

Study: NY nursing home patients infected by staff, not new admissions

The rampant COVID-19 infections and deaths that surged through nursing homes statewide were transmitted by staff — not transferred hospital patients — according to the New York State Department of Health.

The agency studied the impact of the state's March directive that nursing homes could not deny admission or readmission to patients based on a confirmed or suspected coronavirus case. The directive aimed to free up space in overcrowded hospitals as the pandemic reached its peak.

Family members and operators have long argued the move was misguided because nursing homes lacked the equipment or facilities to properly keep those infected with the virus from spreading it to patients.

The results of the state study, released Monday, show that between March 25 and May 8, 6,326 COVID-19 hospital patients were admitted into 310 nursing homes. In that time period, 252 of those facilities already had confirmed or suspected positive patients, confirmed or suspected fatalities, or infected workers, before admission of someone with the coronavirus.

When asked Monday about the state findings, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he made the decision to ban visitors from nursing homes by mid-March but they could have unknowingly spread infections weeks earlier.

“Between the family coming in and the staff, they were the transporters of the virus,” Cuomo said at his coronavirus update in Manhattan.

Data submitted by nursing homes shows 37,500 workers — or one in four employees — were infected with COVID-19 between March and early June 2020, according to the health department report.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

The number of nursing home staff reporting COVID-19 symptoms peaked March 16, 23 days before nursing home fatalities reached their highest level, the report said.

“It is likely that thousands of employees who were infected in mid-March transmitted the virus unknowingly — through no fault of their own — while working, which then led to resident infection,” the report said.

The study pointed to a New York Times analysis showing there have been 6,432 COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes statewide.

“Nursing home caregivers did everything they could to support the residents they know and love through this terrible pandemic,” said George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU, which represents many nursing home workers, in a statement responding to the study. “They did so at great physical and emotional cost, in many cases without adequate personal protective equipment and while being denied needed paid sick time.”

State officials were focused on bolstering hospital resources and ramping up hospital bed capacity at the onset of COVID-19, not nursing homes, noted Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association.

“Policymakers now know that the men and women residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are the most at risk to infection from the COVID-19 virus,” Hanse said in a statement. “Consequently, it is essential that nursing homes and assisted living providers receive the full support and assistance from elected officials and policymakers to ensure they have the necessary resources to defeat this virus and safeguard their residents and staff.”

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

Health