An independent inquiry into deaths at nursing homes and long term care facilities is needed, the New York State Nurses Association said Thursday in a statement. 

The statement came days after the state Department of Health backed up Governor Andrew Cuomo's public comments that asymptomatic staff carried the coronavirus into nursing homes and spread the infections unknowingly.

What You Need To Know

  • The New York State Nurses Association wants an independent review of what happened in nursing homes.

  • The group says a DOH report released this week won't provide an independent and thorough accounting of what happened.

  • The report has been backed up by hospital executives who have worked with the Cuomo administration during the pandemic.

The report released this week by Health Commissioner Howard Zucker sought to rebut criticism of a March 25 order that required the facilities to take in coronavirus positive patients from hospitals. 

The report was backed by hospital industry officials who have worked closely with the state during the pandemic. 

But the nurses' group says a review separated from the Cuomo administration is needed for what happened in nursing homes since March, where more than 6,000 residents have died. 

"New Yorkers deserve a full accounting of what happened over the past four months, and the NYSDOH nursing home report, unfortunately, does not move us forward," the group said. "The need is plain for a comprehensive, independent review of nursing home practices, the role of for-profit operators, and NYSDOH oversight."

The group's executive director, Pat Kane, said a review is needed in order to ensure lessons from the first wave of the virus are learned now. 

"We continue to stress in the strongest terms that we need a seat at the table if we are going to successfully learn the lessons of the past few months and effectively prepare for the next surge,” Kane said. 

Democratic lawmakers in the state Legislature have signaled public hearings on the issue will be scheduled.