NY Lawmakers Consider Probe into Cuomo Administration Directive Sending Coronavirus Patients into Group Homes

Kim Gockley, left, the program director at Lighthouse Vocational Services talks with Chris Wise using american sign language in New Holland, Pa., Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, to help him transition to another work activity. At 31, Wise would rather be on his own instead of living with his mother and …
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration could face another investigation as state lawmakers consider probing an in-tact April directive requiring group homes for the disabled to accept recovering coronavirus patients.

The April 10 directive states, “No individual shall be denied re-admission or admission to a Certified Residential Facility based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”

It reads in part:

Any denial of admission or re-admission must be based on the residential provider’s inability to provide the level of care required by the prospective individual, pursuant to the hospital’s discharge instructions, and based on the residential provider’s current certification.

Additionally, providers of Certified Residential Facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized individual, who is determined medically stable, to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission. Residents who are symptomatic should only be discharged to a certified residence if there are clinical staff available who are capable of attending to the medical needs of a symptomatic resident, pursuant to hospital discharge instructions.

The directive, similar to the now-rescinded controversial March 25 directive requiring New York nursing homes and long-term care facilities to accept coronavirus-positive patients, still remains in place. Senate Investigations Committee Chairman James Skoufis, a Democrat, is considering launching an inquiry into the group home directive after speaking with concerned Republicans, including Sen. Mike Martucci, whom the New York Post described as the “ranking Republican on the panel overseeing the office for developmentally disabled persons.”

“Governor Cuomo has created a culture of corruption, secrecy, and abuse,” he and other GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter to Skoutfis.

“It’s time for the Legislature to step up and hold him accountable for all of his misdeeds, but in particular his order that exposed our developmentally and intellectually disabled citizens to this deadly virus,” the letter continued, adding that the Investigations Committee “has the power and authority to reassert legislative oversight and get to the bottom of this once and for all.”

“Sometimes Republicans are right,” Skoufis told the New York Post, signaling the beginning of a bipartisan probe. “There’s at least a yellow flag that is raised. I do believe there needs to be an examination.”

According to the Post, nearly 7,000 group home residents across the state have tested positive for the virus. Of those, 553 of the cases proved to be fatal.

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), however, has defended the controversial directive, contending that positive patients were “only returned to their homes after being deemed safe to return by the hospital physician, in consultation with the residential provider.”

“Group home providers were only to accept individuals if they could safely accommodate them within the group home, the OPWDD continued, echoing the defense the Cuomo administration used for its controversial March 25 nursing home directive.

“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,” the agency added.

The discussions of a probe come as the Cuomo administration continues to face fallout over its nursing home coverup in addition to the independent investigation into the mounting allegations of sexual harassment and assault lodged against the Democrat governor.

On Monday, Cuomo critic Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called for yet another investigation into the administration following reports of the governor’s vaccine czar calling local officials and gauging their loyalty to the governor.

“What we’ve heard is about the governor and his team, trying to link vaccine supply to political support, that is the definition of corruption. It is disgusting. It is dangerous,” de Blasio told reporters. “There are lives on the line, and it cannot be tolerated.”

“There needs to be now a full investigation of that on top of the investigation of the nursing home scandal the investigation of the sexual harassment and molestation… There needs to be an investigation of why a senior official in the governor’s office, clearly tried to link vaccine supply to political support, and I’ll tell you something,” de Blasio continued. “He better not call me because I’ll tell him what he can do with that.”

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