Friend: Forum Testimony Points to Need for Independent Investigation of Nursing Home Tragedy

Assembly and Senate Minority Host Bipartisan Forum

On Monday, Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) participated in a public forum on the handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was held by Friend and his Assembly and Senate Minority colleagues. The legislators held the forum after hearings held by the majority parties failed to achieve a fair representation of citizens and healthcare professionals. The Minority-led forum included bipartisan representation, as some rank-and-file Majority Assembly members joined them.

“Hearing the heart-wrenching testimony at our forum makes it all the more clear how New York state failed to protect our most vulnerable in our nursing homes. The testimony from those who lost loved ones and the local health professionals trying to protect the public pointed to policies which put seniors at risk and kept their loved ones in the dark,” said Friend. “New York must open a thorough and independent investigation with the governor’s full cooperation. Our state needs to do better and give nursing home residents and grieving families honest answers.”

On March 25, the Department of Health issued a directive requiring nursing facilities to readmit COVID-19 patients once discharged from hospitals. Many raised concerns immediately, but the state persisted with this policy. It resulted in more than 6,700 New Yorkers dying in nursing homes. Still, this number is likely an underrepresentation of actual casualties, as the governor’s DOH was not counting nursing home resident deaths if they died in a hospital, regardless if they had contracted COVID-19 in the nursing facility. The DOH’s July report was widely criticized by the scientific community. Many believe it was drafted to deliberately justify the March 25 directive.

Friend is calling for an independent commission to investigate nursing homes further (A.10857). The assemblyman further welcomes a federal investigation into the matter to hold those accountable if New York will not do so.