COVID-19: NYC Quote of the Day 2020-05-23

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, NYC Mayor de Blasio - Four-Part Plan to Address the Needs of Seniors

Some of the folks who have had the toughest time are our seniors who live in nursing homes. There are 169 nursing homes in New York City. They're largely for-profit enterprises. Today I want to talk about a four-part plan to address the needs of our seniors, particularly our seniors in nursing homes.

First, all roads lead to testing. Starting next week we will offer the diagnostic tests to every nursing home in New York City. This will be for onsite testing in the nursing homes. As many test kits as the nursing home needs, all 169 of them, and whatever amount of tests they need, whatever amount of lab capacity they need, we will find it for them. If every nursing home does this consistently, we believe it will take us up to a need of about 3,000 tests a day. We don't control them. There's a few that are in the domain of our public health system, but the vast majority are private nonprofit that we don't control, we don't regulate, but we're offering this to all for free. We'll ramp it up immediately, and then continue as long as it takes. If this needs to go on for months and months, we will continue for months and months.

Second part, we're going to provide more staff. When you start doing more and more testing, you will find more people who test positive, and that will include some of the good, valiant people who work in our nursing homes. Anyone who tests positive who works in a nursing home has to stay away for 14 days. You're going to have staffing shortages. The city of New York is committed to filling those gaps, to making sure there's enough personnel for every nursing home. We've been sending additional personnel already to nursing homes. We put in place almost 250 additional staff in nursing homes citywide, nurses, nurses aides, other staff. We will continue to fulfill the requests from every nursing home. By the end of next week, every outstanding staffing requests from every nursing home in New York City will be fulfilled by the city of New York.

Part three, outbreak response team. Wherever we see an outbreak, even if itís as localized as happening in a single nursing home, we want to act immediately. So, we have 10 outbreak response teams ready, teams of minimum three people led by our Health Department. Each team has an epidemiologist as the lead individual in the team, but they'll bring in additional experts in infection control, mental health, whatever it takes to assist that nursing home to address what they're facing and fix it and move forward. This is for nursing homes and it's also for other congregate settings that serve our seniors, like assisted living facilities.

And then part four is looking ahead to the future. I think we need to think about a time where more and more of the care given to our seniors is given to them at home. We got to make that the norm more and more. We got to think about why so many people ended up in a nursing home, including a lot of seniors who didn't want to be there. There may be a better way, not only in terms of what the senior wants and what's right for them emotionally and what their aspirations are, but literally for health care for that senior and for everyone. Having folks at home is in many ways not only a better quality of life, but it's a better place to care for someone done right. It's a better place to make sure that people have the support they need, and, if people are living at home, there's much less chance of being exposed to a disease that's spreading. What would it take to reprogram our city towards being much more focused on helping our seniors to stay home and have all the support they need? It's not something I can tell you we can do today, but it will be part of our recovery planning. We're not just going to bring this city back, we're going to bring it back stronger, better, and fairer. We're going to look at how to maximize home-based care rather than nursing home care so we can support our seniors better.
Edited for redundancy, grammar, and emphasis
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