The most important findings in the blockbuster Attorney General’s report on nursing homes released last week, were those that drew attention to the structural issues facing nursing homes, according to Senator Rachel May, chair of the Senate Committee on Aging.
Those structural issues include staffing levels and oversight, and how for-profit nursing homes spend their profits, May told Capital Tonight.
"It was great to see that in black and white and have people pay attention," said May, who held hearings on many of the same issues over the summer.
While the Syracuse Democrat said it was “frustrating” not to be provided the nursing home death numbers by the Cuomo administration, for her, the report was an indictment of nursing homes themselves.
"Infection control. How they managed staff so they weren’t spreading infection, and communications with family members, which was just awful. We heard some of the most heart-rending stories starting in June about how they were communicating or not communicating," she said.
When asked if she thinks it’s time to revisit the governor’s emergency pandemic powers given to him by the legislature last April, Senator May said, "I don’t think we should renew them."
She did not go as far as to say they should be rescinded.
But May did express frustration that her committee wasn’t able to see the nursing home death statistics when it requested them over the summer.
"I think mostly what there is, is a perception of not being forthright, and that’s really dangerous when you have a public health emergency going on. You want to be able to trust the leadership of public health. So, I don’t really understand it," May told Capital Tonight. "I think if they would have been forthright with the numbers from the beginning I don’t see how that would have been worse for them. I just think it’s disappointing that they weren’t able to bring those numbers out to us earlier on."
May is not sure about holding additional hearings.
"I don’t know about additional hearings. We really had very substantive hearings last summer. And like I said, a lot of the information was similar to what the AG highlighted."
On her to do list? May would like to see a closer watch on for-profit nursing homes, especially around what they do with their profits.
"They should be plowing them back into caring for their residents," she said.
She is also hoping to overhaul the so-called "Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program."