By Jessica Easthope
More than 5,200 nursing home residents across New York State have died from coronavirus. Bianca Corozzo’s 72-year-old father was one of them.
“I had no idea they were closing their doors to visitors but opening their doors to residents who were potentially positive, I had no idea,” Bianca said. She never got to say goodbye.
In March, the State Department of Health began limiting visitations but requiring nursing homes to accept and readmit recovering patients, even if they were still positive. That’s when Bianca thinks her father, Anthony, got sick in his Nassau County facility.
“No, you don’t want to walk a virus into a nursing home that could kill the person you’re going to visit,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo partially reversed the problematic mandate over the weekend. Now, patients must test negative before they can be discharged to nursing homes and all staff will be tested twice a week, or lose their license. Bianca says this is too little, too late.
“On day 71 to say, ‘Okay,’ there’s so much damage that’s been done I don’t know if there’s anything that could reverse that,” Bianca said.
She’s not alone in her criticism. New York State Senate Republicans have called for an independent investigation into nursing home deaths. According to the latest figures from the Department of Health, 12 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been nursing home residents. The virus has already likely killed more than five percent of all New York nursing home residents.
“People in nursing homes and seniors, this is where this virus feeds, this is where this virus started,” said Cuomo.
The governor directed the Department of Health and the Attorney General’s Office in late April to begin investigating nursing homes for compliance with state directives. But many industry advocates have argued that those directives are constantly changing, leaving families without closure.
“I’ll never know what really happened,” Bianca said. “If it was he didn’t get the care he needed or the nurses were really over-extended.”