This is probably a case of closing the barn door after the horses are long gone, but the Governor of New York has finally reversed a previous policy and declared that patients must test negative for the novel coronavirus before being admitted into a nursing home. This is a complete about-face from the previous policy of state health director Howard Zucker who said that nursing homes could not turn away new patients even if they tested positive and/or were symptomatic. The Governor had supported the policy and made it official. The results up until now have been nothing short of disastrous. (NY Post)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has finally admitted — tacitly and partially, anyway — the mistake that was state health chief Howard Zucker’s order that nursing homes must admit coronavirus-positive patients.
On Sunday, Cuomo announced a new regulation: Such patients must now test negative for the virus before hospitals can return them to nursing homes. Yet the gov also admitted that COVID-19 cases might still go to the facilities via other routes, and didn’t explicitly overrule Zucker’s March 25 mandate that homes must accept people despite their testing status — indeed, couldn’t even require a test pre-admission.
The gov’s people say that a home that simply can’t accommodate coronavirus patients never had to take them — though they are obliged to help those people find a place that will, with help available from the state if needed. That is: Zucker’s mandate was never more than a “don’t discriminate” rule.
No matter how much the Governor tries to spin this and describe the old policy as nothing more than a rule barring discrimination, his previous statements put the lie to that idea. He’s repeatedly complained that there must be “something wrong” with a nursing home that’s not equipped to deal with COVID-19 patients. It had also been implied on more than one occasion that nursing homes refusing to accept these patients would put their state-mandated licenses at risk.