Since March, Attorney General James has been investigating nursing homes throughout New York state based on allegations of patient neglect and other concerning conduct that may have jeopardized the health and safety of residents and employees.
Among those findings were that a larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than the New York State Department of Health’s (DOH) published nursing home data reflected and may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent.
The investigations also revealed that nursing homes’ lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates. Based on these findings and subsequent investigation, Attorney General James is conducting ongoing investigations into more than 20 nursing homes whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concern.
“As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” said Attorney General James. “While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents. Nursing homes residents and workers deserve to live and work in safe environments, and I will continue to work hard to safeguard this basic right during this precarious time.”
Here are the key fact finding as reported by Attorney General James:
OAG’s preliminary findings are:
» A larger number of nursing home residents died from COVID-19 than DOH data reflected.
» Lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm during
the COVID-19 pandemic in some facilities.
» Nursing homes that entered the pandemic with low U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services
(CMS) Staffing ratings4 had higher COVID-19 fatality rates than facilities with higher CMS Staffing ratings.
» Insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing home staff put residents at increased
risk of harm during the COVID-19 pandemic in some facilities.
» Insufficient COVID-19 testing for residents and staff in the early stages of the pandemic put residents
at increased risk of harm in some facilities.
» The current state reimbursement model for nursing homes gives a financial incentive to owners
of for-profit nursing homes to transfer funds to related parties (ultimately increasing their own profit)
instead of investing in higher levels of staffing and PPE.
» Lack of nursing home compliance with the executive order requiring communication with family members caused avoidable pain and distress; and Government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.