Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-104) is calling for a full Legislative investigation of the Department of Health (DOH) after the release of a report from Attorney General Letitia James, which found that New York State underreported nursing home deaths related to COVID by as much as fifty percent.
“This underreporting of nursing home deaths is unacceptable to say the least. It is an outrageous cover- up,” said Jacobson. “The Legislature needs to get to the bottom of this. I am calling for a full investigation followed by reforms so that this will never happen again.
“Last year I called out the DOH to end its directive forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-infected patients. The DOH finally changed its policy. Through letters and legislation that I introduced, I also called upon the DOH to increase testing of nursing home residents to a minimum of every thirty days.”
Jacobson introduced A.2218, requiring the Commissioner of Health to test all residents of nursing homes and residential health care facilities every 30 days and within 7 days after a staff member or another resident tests positive during the state of emergency.
“Even before the pandemic, nursing homes were sorely understaffed,” Jacobson continued. “That is why I cosponsored legislation by my colleagues, Assemblymember Aileen Gunther and Assemblymember Ron Kim, that would enact critical changes in how nursing homes are staffed.”
A.108 (Gunther), enacts the “safe staffing for quality care act” to require nursing homes to implement certain direct care nurse-to-patient ratios, and A.3131 (Kim) establishes reporting requirements for residential health care facilities during a state disaster emergency involving a disease outbreak.
Jacobson said, “Government cannot function without the trust of the people. Trust begins with transparency, so it’s high time the DOH share the facts behind this report. All New Yorkers, particularly those who lost a loved one in a nursing home due to COVID, deserve to know the truth.”