Tags: Coronavirus | coronavirus | grouphomes | newyorkstate

COVID Cases in New York State Group Homes Under Scrutiny

andrew cuomo book poster with red handprints
A poster of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book is seen covered in red painted hands on March 01, 2021 in New York City.  (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 11 March 2021 02:58 PM

The first COVID-19 wave ravaged group homes in New York State after a little-discussed Cuomo administration directive in April 2020 let recovering virus patients who were intellectually or developmentally disabled back into their community settings, CBS News  reported.

Citing state data it had obtained, CBS News reported Wednesday the virus infected more than 20% of the more than 6,900 disabled residents from those facilities. The state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the agency that oversees group homes, said 552 COVID-19 deaths have been reported as of March 7, the news outlet reported.

Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo was widely criticized for the state’s misleading reporting of nursing home residents' deaths and a March 25, 2020, memo authorizing the return of COVID patients back to nursing homes, less attention was paid to a similar directive April 10, 2020, that affected group home residents, CBS News reported.

The state's Office for People With Developmental Disabilities told the operators of residential facilities to be ready to "expedite the return of asymptomatic [group home] residents from the hospital." The directive noted that there must be clinical staff available to meet their medical needs and that "[s]tandard infection control precautions must be maintained."

The OPWDD's April 10 order still remains in effect, CBS News reported.

"I am deeply concerned that the April 10 order from OPWDD needlessly put some of our most vulnerable citizens in harm's way," GOP state Sen. Michael Martucci, ranking member of the Senate Disabilities Committee, said in a statement.

“Transparency has been a major failing of this administration at all levels. I’m hopeful that they have finally learned their lesson and will provide the information we are requesting and provide it quickly,” he added.

Some data shows that those with intellectual or developmental disabilities living in group homes may be more likely to die from COVID-19. 

Care worker Jeff Monsour told the Washington Examiner the policy didn’t  go far enough to protect the vulnerable group home residents.

“In one case, an individual shared a room in a medically frail facility with another individual — one had COVID, and the other did not. The only thing separating them was a cloth privacy screen," Monsour told the Washington Examiner. "I have been complaining about this COVID situation for a year, along with some other things. I believe the dysfunction goes all the way to the top, to Cuomo."

But OPWDD spokeswoman Jennifer O’Sullivan defended the April directive

“Only residents of OPWDD group homes who were sent to the hospital for COVID-19 treatment were returned to their homes after being deemed safe to return by the hospital physician, in consultation with the residential provider," she told the Washington Examiner.

"Group home providers were only to accept individuals if they could safely accommodate them within the group home. Residents who could not be safely accommodated either remained at the hospital or were served in one of the over 100 temporary sites established for COVID-19 recovery efforts in partnership with OPWDD provider agencies.”

Monsour said the state’s response “is a complete lie,” arguing at-home tests have only been utilized recently and that for most of the pandemic, patients would go to a medical facility if symptoms arose and get a test that did not return immediate results. They would then return back home, infected, to lock down, Monsour said.

"As far as recovery facilities, we never heard of a separate recovery facility," Monsour told the Washington Examiner.

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US
The first COVID-19 wave ravaged group homes in New York State after a little-discussed Cuomo administration directive in April 2020 let recovering virus patients who were intellectually or developmentally disabled back into their community settings...
coronavirus, grouphomes, newyorkstate
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2021-58-11
Thursday, 11 March 2021 02:58 PM
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