These recommendations follow reports of struggles facing nursing home residents and staff during COVID-19
NEW YORK, NY – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Margaret Chin, Chair of the Aging Committee, Council Member Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Hospitals Committee, and Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Health Committee, are calling on the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to protect and improve conditions for aging New Yorkers living in nursing homes amid the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
In a call to action to DOH, Speaker Johnson and Chairs Chin, Rivera and Levine urged the State to adopt proposals in order to keep seniors and health care providers in nursing homes physically safer, as well as offer some emotional and mental support for seniors and their family members. These recommendations include requiring prompt notification to the families of residents if a resident or staff worker within the facility has tested positive for COVID-19; designating home health aides (HHAs) as essential health care workers and adding them to their list of approved visitors allowed in facilities; facilitating daily video chats for patients and their families, if requested, and letting residents and families know of the availability of these daily chats; and providing in-person evaluations and monitoring of nursing homes to ensure that people are receiving appropriate care during this crisis.
Read the Council’s Call to Action in full below:
Council Call to Action re: Nursing Homes (4/2/20)
In New York City, members of all age groups have been affected by the rapid spread of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, however, our senior citizens are the most at risk, especially those residing in nursing homes. Across the state, it has been reported that more than 1,000 nursing-home residents have contracted COVID-19, and almost 15% of the state’s recorded COVID-19 fatalities are among this population. These numbers are even more startling in New York City, where nearly 700 nursing home residents have contracted COVID-19. Given this crisis, it is imperative that we take extensive measures to protect nursing home residents and the employees who take care of them.
We call on New York State to require nursing homes to implement the following proposals and to provide these facilities with the vital resources to be successful in protecting its residents and employees from COVID-19. In the absence of state guidance, however, we urge all state nursing homes to adopt proposals for their respective facilities to help keep seniors and health care providers in their nursing homes physically safer, as well as offer some emotional and mental support for seniors and their family members.
- Nursing homes should promptly notify the families of residents if a resident or staff worker within the facility has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Nursing homes should provide bi-weekly care reports to families to inform them about how patients are doing.
- Nursing homes should designate home health aides as essential health care workers and add them to their list of approved visitors allowed into facilities.
- Nursing homes should facilitate daily video chats for patients and their families, if requested, and let residents and family members know of the availability of these daily chats.
- Nursing homes should employ staff that serve non-English speaking residents and their families.
- NYS should release guidance to help ensure that nursing home staff are prioritized to receive protective equipment at similar rates as hospital staff.
- NYS should increase nursing home staff by recruiting retired nurses who worked in nursing homes, and staff from other agencies and states to work in nursing homes.
- NYS should establish minimum staffing levels for nursing homes.
- The State DOH should provide in-person evaluations and monitoring of nursing homes for signs that appropriate care is being given to residents during this crisis.
- All nursing home staff must have access to adequate PPE.