The New York State Senate Health Committee recently advanced several bills relating to nursing homes and nursing home residents. These bills are largely intended to address problems arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of these bills have received the support of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF).
Bill S.614-B-May/A.1052-B-Bronson would require nursing homes to allow residents to designate up to two personal caregiving visitors. This bill would allow designated personal caregiving visitors to visit nursing home residents, even during public health emergencies. Such visitors would be required to follow the same safety protocols as nursing home staff. Under this bill, the Department of Health would create regulations governing the number, frequency, and duration of visits by personal caregiving visitors. NYCF supports this bill because too many New Yorkers have experienced depression and isolation in nursing homes due to COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions. While it was—and is—necessary to protect vulnerable nursing home residents from the pandemic, that protection must not deprive those residents of the companionship and connection that they need to survive and thrive. This bill strikes the correct balance.
Bill S.3061-A-Rivera would require full and accurate reporting of communicable disease deaths in nursing homes. Among other things, the bill would require the Department of Health to update its website on a weekly basis during public health emergencies with information on communicable disease cases and deaths. It would also require that COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents be reported as such, even if those deaths occurred at hospitals. NYCF supports this bill because it would effectively prevent Gov. Andrew Cuomo or any other governor from camouflaging the true number of nursing home deaths during an epidemic.