Malliotakis calls for investigation into long-term care facilities

May 11, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Malliotakis calls for investigation into long-term care facilities
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Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr asking him to start an investigation regarding the care of COVID-19 patients in long-term care facilities in New York State.

“It is my fear and belief that to leave it in the hands of our governor and  Attorney General Letitia James would be a disservice to those we have lost and the families who mourn them,” Malliotakis wrote on May 8.  

On May 10, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will issue an executive order mandating that all nursing homes and adult care facilities test all personnel for COVID-19 two times per week and report any positive test results to the State Department of Health by the next day. The executive order also mandates that hospitals cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless that patient tests negative for COVID-19. 

Malliotakis responded to the order.

“He changed the policy after we complained about it and I wrote that letter to Barr to investigate,” she told this paper. “[Cuomo] backtracked. After all this time, he changed his policy. On March 25, he mandated that positive patients go to nursing homes, which was a very bad move. Even after the weeks that followed when the U.S. Comfort Ship came, the Jacob Javits Center opened, sites on Staten Island were open and set up to take patients, he kept directing them to nursing homes, which are most vulnerable. It wasn’t until yesterday that he withdrew it after people like myself called for an investigation.”

According to Malliotakis, more than 5,000 patients in LTCFs in New York State are believed to have succumbed to COVID-19 since the outbreak struck New York City and the state earlier this year. 

The letter stated that on Wednesday, March 25, Cuomo issued an executive order that “effectively unleashed a wolf into a hen house by not allowing LTCFs the right to deny the acceptance of COVID patients into their facilities. In his daily briefing on April 19, the governor even acknowledged the increased risk nursing homes faced, stating, ‘It can just spread like fire through grass,’ yet the order continued even after the USNS Comfort arrived on March 30, the Javits Center facility opened on April 3 and the South Beach Psychiatric Facility opened on April 7.”

Malliotakis added, “There are growing calls throughout the state for an investigation into this directive and rightfully so. We want the truth and the facts but I do not believe that the state government has the ability to conduct a truly independent investigation. In a letter to Governor Cuomo and Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Health, dated April 30, 2020, I expressed my sense of alarm at the extraordinary number of deaths at these LTCFs to our most vulnerable population, which we began learning about on April 17. My questions have not been answered, but the governor did address these deaths by ascribing blame to the LTCFs themselves and calling on his own investigation. That is disingenuous at best, criminal at its worst.”

She also added that, even though he responded to the letter following criticism, ”There should be an investigation because people need to know why he didn’t send them to facilities after they were set up.”

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