Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, so Governor Cuomo has suspended all non-medically necessary visits to nursing homes until further notice.  There are limited exceptions, such as end-of-life situations, that you should discuss directly with the facility.  In the meantime, you should try to keep in contact as much as possible with your loved one through telephone, Skype, FaceTime and other remote methods.  Even writing letters and sending cards will show them that you’re still thinking of them!  Contact your loved one’s facility to inquire about setting up video chat services with your loved one if they cannot communicate with you via telephone.

Nursing home inspections by Ombudsmen and the Department of Health have also been affected.  For three weeks (through April 3rd unless extended) CMS and DOH will focus on the following inspection priorities:

  • Complaints that are triaged at the Immediate Jeopardy Level; and
  • Targeted Infection Control Surveys
    • CMS has shared with providers an infection control checklist and encourages providers to conduct a self-assessment of their infection control plan and protections.
    • CMS has sent the Infection Control survey developed by CMS and CDC to nursing homes so that nursing homes can “educate themselves on the latest practices and expectations.”

If family members or residents have concerns about the level of care a resident is receiving, they should file complaints with the Department of Health at 1-888-201-4563.  If there is a concern about abuse or neglect, please contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit at (800) 771-7755 or online at https://ag.ny.gov/medicaid-fraud/contact.

Nursing homes are being directed to readmit residents returning from hospitals as quickly as possible, and hospitals are proceeding with expedited discharges when the resident is medically stable.  Hospital discharge planners must confirm with the nursing home that the resident is medically stable and able to return.  They also must provide the nursing home with comprehensive discharge instructions.  Nursing homes are not permitted to refuse readmission to a resident solely because of a COVID-19 diagnosis.  Residents or resident advocates who are concerned about discharge from a hospital to a nursing home for any reason (whether the discharge is happening before a patient is stable, or whether a patient is being refused readmission for inappropriate reasons) should file complaints with the Department of Health at 1-888-201-4563.

See our recent blog post on Self-Advocacy for Nursing Home Residents and Families here.