One of our top priorities is protecting people in nursing homes and seniors. We have implemented many safety measures, many of which have been difficult to implement but we did for health reasons. Restricting visitation except for end of life visits. You don't want to walk a virus into a nursing home that could kill the person you're going to visit. PPE requirements, all staff have to be checked going to a nursing home every 12 hours. All facilities must notify families within 24 hours. Separate facilities, residents from staff in the event of an outbreak.
Nursing homes all across the country have seen the COVID virus take a high toll. New York has one of the highest populations of nursing home residents of any state in the country, over 100,000 residents. But New York's percentage of deaths in nursing homes is the 34th highest of any state. Today we're taking additional steps to protect seniors in nursing homes.
First, I want people to understand how a nursing home operates vis a vis the state. The most vulnerable population deserves the highest level of care, so the rule is very simple. If a nursing home cannot provide care for a person and provide the appropriate level of care for any reason, they must transfer the person out of the facility. If they can't find another facility, they call the state Department of Health. If they don't have enough staff, if they don't have enough PPE, if their facility doesn't allow for isolation or quarantine - whatever it is, if they cannot provide the proper care, they must transfer the resident, period. If they have a COVID positive person and they can't treat a COVID positive person, they must transfer the person or call the state Department of Health and the state Department of Health will transfer that person.
Hospitals, going forward, cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless the patient tests negative for COVID-19. We're just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit. Period.
We have alternative facilities for nursing home patients, COVID or non-COVID. We're not reducing the number of hospital beds that we have available. We've always had more hospitals beds available than we've used - always.
I understand the nursing homes perspective, but if they cannot provide the appropriate care, they have to call the Department of Health and let's get that resident into an appropriate facility. I can't be more direct about that.
If a nursing home operator does not follow these procedures, they will lose their license. Well, that's harsh. No. Harsh is having a nursing home resident who doesn't get the appropriate care. That's what's harsh - having someone's parent or mother or brother in a situation where they're in a facility, they can't even get a visitor, they're isolated, they feel alone, and they're not getting the appropriate care. I have tremendous respect for what they do, but this is the essence of their responsibility and obligation.
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