Coronavirus patients admitted to Queens nursing home — with body bags

Coronavirus patients admitted to Queens nursing home — with body ...


The first coronavirus patients admitted to a Queens nursing home under a controversial state mandate arrived along with some grim accessories — a supply of body bags, The Post has learned.
An executive at the facility — which was previously free of the deadly disease — said the bags were in the shipment of personal protective equipment received the same day the home was forced to begin treating two people discharged from hospitals with COVID-19.
“My colleague noticed that one of the boxes was extremely heavy. Curious as to what could possibly be making that particular box so much heavier than the rest, he opened it,” the exec told The Post Thursday.
“The first two coronavirus patients were accompanied by five body bags.”
Within days, three of the bags were filled with the first of 30 residents who would die there after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Health Department handed down its March 25 directive that bars nursing homes from refusing to admit “medically stable” coronavirus patients, the exec said.
Like clockwork, the nursing home has received five body bags a week — every week — from city officials.
“Cuomo has blood on his hands. He really does. There’s no way to sugarcoat this,” the health care executive added.

Enlarge ImageGov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his daily coronavirus briefing today.Hans Pennink

“Why in the world would you be sending coronavirus patients to a nursing home, where the most vulnerable population to this disease resides?”
Since March 25, the Queens nursing home has admitted 17 patients from hospitals who tested positive for coronavirus, but in a bitter irony, most of them have fared well, the exec said. Those who have died passed away without a test or while awaiting the results from one.
“The rest of the people are dropping like flies — literally like flies — and most of them have been with us for years,” the exec added.
COVID-19 has killed at least 3,540 residents of New York’s nursing homes and adult care facilities as of Wednesday, according to the most recent state Health Department data.
The Queens story is painfully repeating at a Manhattan nursing home.
Administrators there told The Post they’ve also received body bags in weekly shipments of supplies, which City Hall confirmed the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was distributing to nursing homes.
One of the Manhattan administrators said the state’s admission mandate came with no warning or even time to prepare facilities for an influx of coronavirus patients, who the state says must be quarantined inside nursing homes and treated by separate staffers.
“By the time I even got to the work the next day, I had phone calls, emails from just about every hospital in the area,” the administrator said. Previously, the person added, the facility had required “two negative test results before we’d even consider taking someone into the building.
Officials at both nursing homes declined to have their names published because they feared retribution from Cuomo, who regulates them. The Post reviewed emails, state regulatory orders, other public documents and spoke to five employees across the two facilities to confirm their stories.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi called the “blood on his hands” comment about the governor “disgusting” and accused nursing home operators of “trying to deflect from their failures.”
He vowed state officials were “going to get to the bottom” of the high death count in nursing homes, where Cuomo has said COVID-19 spreads “like fire through dry grass.”
Earlier, Cuomo said that if a nursing home can’t properly quarantine and treat the patients, it was supposed to move them to other facilities or ask the Health Department to arrange a transfer.
But the March 25 mandate does not detail how, and state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said he was not aware that DOH had received any transfer requests.
“That is the rule and that is the regulation and they have to comply with that,” Cuomo said at the coronavirus briefing in Albany.
“And the regulation is common sense: If you can’t provide adequate care, you can’t have the patient in your facility and that’s your basic fiduciary obligation — I would say, ethical obligation — and it’s also your legal obligation."
“Now, when a person gets transferred, they lose a patient, they lose that revenue, I understand, but the relationship is, the contract is, ‘You have this resident, you get paid, you must provide adequate care,’” he said.

Cuomo also doubled down on his remark a day earlier that “it’s not our job” to provide nursing homes with personal protective equipment, saying, “We have given them thousands and thousands of PPE.”
“It’s their primary responsibility like it’s a hospital’s primary responsibility. And hospitals ran into problems, nursing homes ran into problems.”
“This is a national story, right? Turn on the national news any given time, and you have people saying, ‘We can’t get enough PPE,’ right?” he added.
A member of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force — SUNY-Empire State College president Jim Malatras — said the state had distributed 417,000 surgical grade masks, 101,000 gowns, 85,000 face shields, 422,000 gloves and 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to nursing homes over the last two weeks.


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