Buttenschon, Griffo Call on State to Protect Nursing Home Residents, Most Vulnerable To COVID-19

State must stop importing hospital patients to stop the spread of coronavirus and must allow for potentially life-saving drugs to be administered to nursing home residents

Utica, NY – Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D,I-Marcy) and State Senator Joe Griffo (R,C,I-Rome) called on Governor Cuomo and state health officials to protect New York’s most vulnerable who reside in nursing homes, where the coronavirus death toll has risen to 3,448, by stopping COVID-19 positive patients from being readmitted to homes where no coronavirus cases exist.

Senator Griffo and Assemblywoman Buttenschon also called on the Governor to permit doctors to prescribe potentially life-saving, experimental coronavirus drugs to patients already being treated inside nursing homes, who were left out of an Executive Order allowing their use for patients in hospitals and only for patients in rehabilitative care within a nursing home.

“We know that coronavirus spreads like wildfire among the most vulnerable and it is nonsensical to import cases of COVID to a place where community spread could lead to grave consequences for residents. New York residents have made sacrifices to stop the spread by not visiting their moms, dads, husbands, wives, grandmas and grandpas with the hope that at the end of this nightmare they will reunite. The Governor must stop and put an end to this dangerous and potentially deadly practice," said Senator Griffo.

“Nursing homes have been the sites of some of the earliest and deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19. It does not make sense that these facilities should have to bring in a disease with such proven deadly potential into a community of our most vulnerable residents. New Yorkers have had to make huge, unprecedented changes to their lives by ceasing their visits to vulnerable family members in order to protect them during this crisis. It is unconscionable that the State continues to put their lives at risk by continuing this ill-advised practice. Governor Cuomo must act immediately to put an end to this,” said Assemblywoman Buttenschon.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have already faced budget cuts and are short-staffed during this pandemic. In facilities caring for the most vulnerable testing is limited, and potentially life-saving experimental drugs being used to treat COVID-19 cannot be administered to residents.

“It is unconscionable not to save lives with these potentially lifesaving drugs and Governor Cuomo must expand their use to nursing home residents immediately,” Senator Griffo added.

“The current policies are a recipe for disaster. Putting COVID-19 positive patients into nursing homes will only serve to amplify issues related to staffing-shortages, decreased funding, lack of COVID-19 testing and equipment, and the inability of staff to prescribe potentially lifesaving, experimental drugs. Not only will residents of these facilities be unnecessarily put at risk, but so will the employees who work in them,” added Assemblywoman Buttenschon.

The State has admitted for weeks that nursing homes are a potential problem for the spread of COVID-19. However, in spite of expert opinion, New York continues with a dangerous plan of ordering nursing homes and long-term care facilities to accept patients and residents who have tested positive – or who are suspected of being positive – into their care. The Senator and Assemblywoman urge the State to follow the model being used by states such as Massachusetts which place COVID-19 positive residents in separate designated facilities or institutions.