What Are Your Rights: COVID19 Response & Fallout
Recorded on July 20, 2022
It’s been months now since Governor Hochul promised an in-depth investigation into New York’s nursing home situation. The announcement came after a scathing report found nursing home deaths were undercounted during the pandemic. In this week’s “What are Your Rights” segment, Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to lay out where things currently stand.
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Announcer: Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Interviewer: It’s been months now since Governor Hochul promised an in-depth investigation into New York’s nursing home situation. The announcement came after a scathing report found nursing home deaths were undercounted during the pandemic. In this week’s “What are Your Rights” segment, Attorney Paul Harding, from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, lays out where things stand with the nursing home situation.
So, Paul, we’re talking about the situation with the nursing homes here in New York State. So, first, can you just tell me a little bit about what some of the concerns have been around staffing with these nursing homes?
Paul: Yeah, so the federal government actually plays a role in New York State staffing of nursing homes, through their payment of Medicaid. They set the standard, they say, how many support people, how many employees do you have to have per bed, per folks in the nursing home at that time, and they came back with the conclusion that they were grossly understaffed during the pandemic, which people probably said, “Yeah, okay. We can see that.” But it actually said, “No, this has been going on for years. They’ve not been keeping up with the staffing criteria set by the federal government.”
Interviewer: And then the AG report recommended rolling back immunity. So, tell me a little bit about what that means, and then has that happened.
Paul: So, the nursing homes received immunity from any claims, and they did so in conjunction with hospitals, and other healthcare providers, but they sort of worked their way into that list. So, when that became a source of absolute political tension, where they found out that nursing home deaths and what was happening in there, there was public outrage. So, there was a rollback in, you know, April, and then Governor Cuomo was still seated down in Albany. He went ahead and signed a law that said, “Hey, no more immunity. Anything that happens, we know from this point forward, the nursing homes are gonna face the same scrutiny they would normally.” But the question is, is it retroactive? Is it gonna go back to the pandemic times? And the courts are kind of battling that right now.
Interviewer: Yeah, I was gonna ask you, what does this mean for the families of loved ones who have suffered or died in the pandemic, how does this all play out for them?
Paul: So, the families are just waiting. They’re waiting to see how this plays out in the court. Are they going to take this rollback all the way back to pre-pandemic and give them the opportunity to, you know, bring a claim on behalf of loved ones who were injured, or died, or not? We don’t know which direction the wind’s gonna blow, it’s deeply rooted in the courts. We’re gonna find out, we think, sometime over the winter. I know it seems like a long time for people to wait, but that is how the court systems do work.
Interviewer: Yeah. And lastly, you know, for any of our viewers who believe that they might be caught up in some of this or have a case, and what can they do, what happens now for them?
Paul: The first thing they should do is, you know, get documentation. Get the stuff that actually makes sense where they think something went wrong, you know, get the death certificate, get any reports they can get from the nursing home and just sort of, kind of keep that there. There’s lots of stuff online. There may be lawyers that they can reach out to. But when this thing, if this thing breaks, and it allows claims to proceed, certainly, it will be big news, so they should stay tuned to news agencies relative to nursing home.
Interviewer: And for more from our “What are Your Rights” segments, or to just send us a story idea, head to our website, cbs6albany.com.