Cuomo announced new regulations on Sunday: these patients must now be tested negative for the virus before hospitals can send them back to nursing homes. However, the government has also admitted that COVID-19 cases could still be routed to facilities by other routes, and has not explicitly canceled Zucker’s March 25 mandate that houses must accept people despite their test status – in fact, he couldn’t even require a pre-admission test.
Government officials say that a home that simply cannot accommodate coronavirus patients has never had to take them away – although they are forced to help these people find a location that will, with state aid if necessary. That is to say, Zucker’s tenure was never more than a rule of “no discrimination.”
But Zucker publicly presented it as “must accept” – and Cuomo’s remarks regularly implied that there must be something wrong with a home that couldn’t handle corona patients.
So while government officials imply that some houses simply misunderstood the rules, the real message to operators was that declaring themselves overwhelmed would jeopardize their licenses.
In particular, the head of a Cobble Hill facility not only refused his request for personal protective equipment, but was coldly dismissed when he later asked to transfer patients.
Then, too, Zucker’s health ministry issued other heartless orders during this crisis – the now-canceled “don’t even try to resuscitate” EMT warrant for cardiac arrest cases, as well as saying at least one house it was OK to keep staff members at work after they were positive.
Also say: The government has ordered an investigation that is clearly supposed to blame all the nursing and adult care facilities: it’s led by the state’s attorney general, Tish James, who got his job with Cuomo’s crucial help – and looking only at the houses did wrong.
We are sure that James will discover many real horrors: everyone (who cared to know) has long known that many New York nursing homes left much to be desired. But that was all the more reason for Zucker & Co. to focus on policing and assisting these facilities from the start – rather than issuing decrees that have led to repeated and unnecessary tragedies.