The New York State Health Department will not release information about the number of positive COVID-19 cases in nursing homes and related deaths in specific facilities across the state because of privacy issues, according to Spectrum Local News.
“The nursing home is in many ways where they live,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “It’s not like when you go into a hospital and then you can leave the hospital, so we try to protect their privacy a little bit more but we do track and if there’s a case there or a concern there, we go in and investigate it immediately.”
Although nearly 2,000 nursing home residents in the state of New York have died from the coronavirus, the New York State Department of Health won’t state specifically where the cases are. Further, it is uncertain whether the cases are being tracked to further limit exposures. It is also unclear if nursing homes are taking the proper precautionary measures to limit injury and illness to their residents.
John Dalli, a partner in the law firm Dalli & Marino, LLP, says that may violate the New York State Public Health Law.
“If someone has a healthcare proxy or is next-of-kin, they are entitled to information about their loved one including whether that person has contracted COVID-19,” says Dalli.
He adds, “Most of these facilities were not set up with adequate staffing before the crisis, so there are a lot of people who are being put in harm’s way.”
If you have a parent or loved one in a skilled nursing facility, Dalli advises establishing a daily connection with someone inside the home, be it a doctor, a nurse, or an administrator, who can share what’s going on inside with your loved one.
“We are all under stress, the residents, the caregivers and the families. But it’s no excuse to not give families the information they are entitled to have about the resident.”
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