Residents of nursing homes remain one of the most vulnerable populations, with the issues at senior care centers taking center stage during the coronavirus pandemic.
We reached out to multiple nursing homes in Erie County. Only The McGuire Group responded with a statement about how they are handling the coronavirus pandemic, but they did not address reopening plans.
“Our state and nation are faced with the impossible task of balancing the availability of hospital beds and policies for protecting the frail elderly,” A spokeswoman for The McGuire Group said in a statement. “Per the March 25, 2020 government order, nursing homes are not allowed to deny admission or readmission to anyone who is COVID-positive.
Our residents’ loved ones are contacted by our staff through the designated health care proxy/representative regarding any changes in status, including that related to the COVID virus. Adjustments to our COVID contact policy were made on the first business day after the order was given by the government. It is the health care proxy’s responsibly to communicate with appropriate family members.”
Experts and advocates in senior care do not believe that nursing homes in New York will reopen this month.
“We have to be careful not to put populations who are at risk in an even greater risk when we reopen,” Dr. Bruce Troen, UB Professor and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, said. “The real key to the question is…how are we able to test? If we can test and then trace in a way that is consistent, mind you, with our privacy to the best degree possible…then we have a much better shot at reducing risk.”
Lindsay Heckler, a supervising attorney for the Center for Elder Law and Justice, said despite the lockdown measures already enacted by nursing homes, the virus made its way in and has had a devastating impact.
Is a vaccine, then, the only way that the homes can reopen? She doesn’t believe that nursing homes need to wait until a vaccine, but it’s unlikely to open by the end of this month.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that if there is anything else the state can learn from the pandemic and can do, they will.