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AG sets up hotline to report COVID-related issues at nursing homes

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With New York's most vulnerable people living in close quarters in the middle of the pandemic, state officials say they've kept a close eye on nursing homes and assisted living facilities during the coronavirus crisis.

Although nursing homes are required by state regulations to handle COVID-19 cases in a specific way, and to report all deaths associated with the virus, state attorney general Letitia James is re-emphasizing ways the general public can help keep those facilities in check. 

"We recognize that the most vulnerable New Yorkers are continuing to suffer through this crisis at nursing homes across the state," James said, in a release. "While our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit continues to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect in the system, we launched a hotline where residents, families, or members of the public can share complaints about nursing homes that have not provided required communications with families about COVID-19 diagnoses or fatalities."

That hotline is at (833) 249-8499, or can be filed online at AG.ny.gov/nursinghomes

During his daily briefing on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined the laws and regulations put in place for nursing homes during the pandemic. They include requiring personal protection equipment and temperature checks for all staff members, isolating residents infected with the coronavirus, notifying all residents and family members within 24 hours if any resident tests positive or dies of complications from the coronavirus, and must readmit any coronavirus-positive residents if they have the ability to provide "adequate level of care" under health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The latest numbers released by the state reveal that nine nursing homes facilities in the Bronx have had at least five deaths related to the coronavirus, including 17 at St. Patrick's Home at 66 Van Cortlandt Park S., and 35 at The Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 100 W. Kingsbridge Road. 

The most deaths in the Bronx remain at Kings Harbor Multicare Center in Pelham Park with 45.  Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn continues to lead the city — and state — when it comes to nursing home deaths with 55, according to the latest data provided by the state's health department.

Other data about individual nursing homes and how they are handling the coronavirus pandemic has not been released because of patient privacy concerns. Still, James said those aware of issues that might be taking place at nursing homes should report it.

"Every nursing home should be provided with adequate (personal protection equipment) and testing, and enhanced infection control protocols must be implemented to protect residents," James said. "I am grateful to the workers in our nursing homes who continue to serve and support our vulnerable residents. These workers deserve our respect and must also be tested and protected during this time."

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