Family of COVID-19 victim wants documents on Cuomo’s nursing home decision

February 23, 2021 Raanan Geberer
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Norman Arbeeny lived in Cobble Hill his entire life

Brothers Peter and Daniel Arbeeny, who lost their father Norman last year after he was discharged from a nursing home, on Wednesday sent a Freedom of Information request to New York State seeking documents related to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home directive of March 25, 2020.

Norman Arbeeny, who was 89 when he died, was one of 12 siblings in a Syrian immigrant family. He lived in the same house, at 128 Amity St., all his life, Peter Arbeeny told the Eagle

On March 25, Cuomo issued a directive barring nursing homes from refusing patients based solely on a COVID-19 diagnosis, according to the Associated Press. Cuomo defended the directive as an effort to prevent catastrophic hospital overcrowding and discrimination against virus patients.DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWSNews for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“It was the single dumbest decision anyone could make if they wanted to kill people,” Peter Arbeeny said of the directive, which prompted him to pull his 88-year-old father out of the Cobble Hill Health Center, where more than 50 people had died. His father, who had contracted the virus at the Cobble Hill Health Center, later died of COVID-19 at home the same month, in April.

“You’ve got to understand,” said Peter Arbeeny, “that when someone died in April [at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic], there was no funeral, no wake, no church service.” 

The late Norman Arbeeny, center, and his children. Photo courtesy of Arbeeny family

The family wouldn’t criticize the Cobble Hill Health Center, placing the blame on Cuomo. “We know they did everything they could for our father,” Peter Arbeeny, who owns All HVAC Service Company, said last year, “and we decided to do a second donation of 3M N95 medical masks to the residents and workers at Cobble Hill Health Center as a show of appreciation, and in memory of our father, Norman.”

The Arbeeny family said, “We knew Governor Cuomo was misleading us almost a year ago. We want to fact-check the Governor:

  • Was he following the federal guidelines like he has stated?
  • Did he speak to Dr. Fauci about the directive like he said he did?
  • At a press conference on Monday, February 15, 2020, the Governor stated that New York ranks 34th out 50 states in nursing home deaths in the nation – what is the death toll number he is using? According to the Empire Center for Public Policy’s Bill Hammond, the “new” number of nursing home deaths puts New York at number one in the nation.
  • Were COVID-19 positive patients sent to nursing homes instead of USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) or the Javits Center because there was no cost to the patient and New York State and/or healthcare special interests would not have been paid?
  • Did not being able to bill Medicare/Medicaid or insurance companies play any role in the decision around the Governor’s nursing home directive?”

The family also sent a request to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases seeking documents related to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s supposed communication with Governor Cuomo about the directive last year.–>

The late Norman Arbeeny, who died of COVID-19 last year. Photo courtesy of Arbeeny family

Saying the governor’s directive “lacked science, lacked common sense,” Peter Arbeeny told when he and his brother Daniel began to question Cuomo’s narrative, “we were called right-wing operatives, even though I’m a Democrat.

“We had a mock funeral in October for Governor Cuomo’s integrity and leadership in front of the Cobble Hill Health Center,” he continued. “Other families [who had members who had died in nursing homes] came, and many took photos of their loved ones, and put them in the coffin.” 

The family demanded that Cuomo apologize. “We’ve invited Cuomo to our father’s house on Amity Street to make an in-person apology,” Peter Arbeeny said.

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