A bill requiring nursing homes to plan for the next pandemic is one step closer to being made law after gaining approval in both chambers of the Legislature on Wednesday.
The bill would require nursing homes in the state to have plans for future pandemics, make those plans readily available on websites, provide regular updates on the status of patients and include protection plans for staff and residents.
Communication via videoconferencing must also be made available for residents.
The bill would also require a pandemic plan to preserve a resident's place in a nursing home after hospitalization is complete and include provisions for the facilities to have a minimum two-month supply of personal protective equipment.
“The nature of COVID19 exposed a tragic vulnerability among one of our most high-risk populations: our elderly," said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat. "The rapid spread of the virus in nursing homes exposed a fatal flaw in pandemic planning and it is clear that more has to be done to protect nursing home residents and its healthcare workers."
Nearly 6,000 people living in nursing homes in New York have died either as a direct result of COVID-19 or believed to have died due to contracting the virus.
New York's handling of nursing homes during the crisis has come under scrutiny, including a March 25 order that required the facilities to take in COVID-positive patients.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has partially reversed that order by banning hospitals from discharging people to nursing homes who are still positive for the virus.
Cuomo has also blamed CDC guidelines for allowing nursing homes to take COVID residents, but he did not raise the issue on Wednesday in a meting with President Trump.
Twice weekly testing of nursing home and adult care facility staff is now underway as testing capacity and supply has ramped up in New York over the last month.