Nursing Home Visitation Guidelines in New York

Recorded on October 20, 2020

Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with PYX106 discussing the nursing home visitation guidelines for New York during the coronavirus pandemic, and whether there is a chance they could change in the near future.

Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

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Quinn: It’s Quinn and Cantara, PYX 106. 1800law1010, It’s Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, of course, and Paul Harding‘s on the phone, Cantara.

Steve: Hey, Paul.

Paul: Hey, guys. Good morning.

Steve: We’ve got a listener involved this week. Mary lives in Malta. Her siblings and her have been waiting to get into Riverside to see their mom since March. She was able to see her in the med center as a health proxy in July. Her mother had COVID, recovered, but then went back to the nursing home where she now can’t see her. And that leads to the question about visitation guidelines in New York State.

Quinn: I don’t know what to do, Paul.

Steve: People think they need to be changed. Where are we at, Paul?

Paul: Well, the majority of the nursing homes have had long periods of time where you could visit. What it comes down to is there couldn’t have been a COVID-19 positive test for 14 days. So the clock keeps ticking. If people get keep getting it, once there’s a positive test, they kinda shut the doors down. And in some of the nursing homes, maybe the one you’re describing, it seems to be the case. There’s just the perpetual case and the delay keeps going.

Quinn: The bill will allow residents to designate a primary, secondary, and alternate caregiver. Specifically, the bill, which is by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, says that there will be an essential caregiver as well as the procedures that are necessary to allow their entry into the nursing home setting for purposes of providing support and care to loved ones.

Quinn: So if you’re gonna stick your neck out like Santabarbara wants to do here with this, you must have your protocols, like, you know, repetitive and redundant. I feel like it might work.

Paul: You know, it’s a balancing test, right? So the folks who are in there, you know, the word coming down is that they’re suffering so much from being alone and that they don’t have their family around them and they’re just going into deep despair. So what do you do? You gotta find a formula that’s going to work. Here, what they’re saying is not only did they visit in sort of a block by shield way, this would be a caregiver, someone to go into mom or dad’s room that they could help bathe and feed and spend time with them and hug them.

I mean, even the rule now still has… you know, they’ve got these parking lot visits and they’ve got these people that are being separated. So sure, put the protocols in and let them be brought to mom or dad’s room. There’s some risk, but there’s a lot of risk in not allowing these folks to see any loved ones at all.

Quinn: I mean, they’re on a per-person basis. I mean, you put the person in a full-on bubble with that air thing that sucks all the air out of the room or something. I mean, I feel like there’s a way to do it. Sorry, Steve, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

Paul: Yeah.

Steve: I was just gonna highlight how convoluted this is, because in North Greenbush, they’re trying to trace where the COVID came from. They’re trying to get into Van Rensselaer Manor. But the health inspector won’t let the investigators go in because they haven’t posted proof of a negative COVID test.

Quinn: So why… yeah.

Steve: So I don’t wanna… geez, I don’t wanna go along the same lines as the president, I just don’t, but this is almost a case where the cure is worse than the disease, in this particular instance.

Paul: Yeah, that’s what it feels like.

Quinn: And there’s big money in this business too.

Paul: Sure is.

Steve: Yeah.

Quinn: Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of money, and the money comes from insurance companies most of the time. There’s a lot of money to get for these companies. And they own, like, hundreds of these retirement homes.

Steve: Paul, what can these families do next, or anything?

Paul: Sure, you know, they’ve gotta comply with the rules currently, but if they want to support this bill, it would open this up. It would allow up to three people to be designated caregivers, and they could… You know, again, they’re gonna be tested. The negative test still might be there. They’re gonna check to see if you have a fever.

But once you’re in, you now can see your loved one, you can hug your loved one, you can spend quality time in their room. I’m sure you’re gonna be isolated. You’re not gonna be able to wander around the nursing home. But this is such a hot political button that this is a very gutsy attempt at some legislation that I think virtually all of the family want this to go through. Probably most of the residents do too. We’re gonna have to wait and see.

Steve: Could the governor just take care of this with one signature?

Paul: He seems to be good at that. Yeah, just kind of those executive orders. Just kinda wake up one morning, and you can’t go here, you don’t go there, because he’s gotta make these quick decisions. Sure, he could do the same thing. He could look at this and say, “This is reasonable,” or “We’re gonna take maybe some more precautions,” maybe not quite as open as this, but we need to get somewhere, and the governor could look at that, analyze it, and make a decision.

Quinn: Final question from me, Paul, and it’s totally subjective, because we gotta see what they do as far as the protocol does. But would you accept a worker’s comp case from somebody who was at a facility like this who caught COVID who wanted to claim that they got it from somebody coming in?

Paul: Yeah, we have not been taking the worker’s comp cases related to this. I know some people…

Quinn: That’s kinda scary, right?

Paul: …around the state have. It’s just so hard to prove how it came, where it came, you know, because even the folks who work there, they work there, but they also live in the rest of the world, you know. They stop by, you know, Walmart and sorts and go to church. And so proving that it came from there, super difficult to do. So, yeah, that has not been something that the worker’s compensation board has been generously supporting.

Steve: I hope Mary got some answers here, so.

Quinn: Yeah, me too. Me too.

Steve: All right, Paul.

Quinn: And it sounds like it might be going in her direction. We wish her the best.

Paul: Yeah. We hope so too.

Quinn: Thanks, Paul.

Paul: Okay, guys.

Quinn: 1800law1010, That’s Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.