Announcer: The New York State Assembly’s Health Committee passed a bill yesterday to ensure safer staffing in nursing homes. Now, since the AG’s report revealed staffing shortages and negligence for some capital region nursing homes, families losing loved ones to the virus could be wondering if there’s any legal action that can be taken now. CBS 6’s Melissa Lee sits down with the managing partner Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti who answers questions on what you can do, if you feel that your family members weren’t given the care they needed.
Melissa: A recent report released by the New York Attorney General concluded that the Department of Health publicly under-counted nursing home deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and shed light upon the frightful staffing conditions in some of these facilities. To help discuss this legal issue is managing partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti. The report from the AG talks…some of the concerns around the staffing at these facilities. Can you explain this?
Paul: What she looked at in the Attorney General’s Office in general said is that these federal and state guidelines, again, number of staff for the number of people, have not been met for years. But now with this pandemic, with COVID-19, what we see is, this has now come to light. So, that is a problem for these private facilities. They’re all kind of going, “Oh, no. We thought we were protected. We thought this thing was kind of behind us.”
Melissa: Well, the AG report recommends rolling back immunity that was granted to health care providers near the beginning of the pandemic. Can you explain what immunity was granted and why the government would do that?
Paul: Well, it was granted because, you know, we’ve got these hospitals and nursing homes, they didn’t wanna have people be so worried about procedure that maybe if they were in a dangerous situation, that they would be afraid to operate because of liability, so they set the standard for reckless. And at the beginning of this thing, it wasn’t an unreasonable thing to do, but these things really took a point where just be a matter [inaudible 00:02:02] to open the door for not maintaining a standard of care. And now, the victims and their families are saying, “What can we do?” And with immunity, the answer currently is nothing.
Melissa: Okay. So, if I’m a person with a loved one in one of these facilities, what are my legal options?
Paul: Well, you’re hoping that they roll back the immunity so you can at least get a look at what happened. You could look into it, maintain a claim, find out what happened to your mother or your loved one. And then turns out, if there’s just general negligence, you know, they failed to do whatever reasonable…the expectations would have been, then you would have the ability to maintain a claim and kind of right this wrong.
Melissa: If you’d like more information on this topic, head to our website cbs6albany.com.