The city and state have drastically changed a federally mandated program designed to protect nursing home residents, leading to the disproportionate deaths of elderly New Yorkers from coronavirus, a new report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer alleges.
While the National Guidelines stipulate a watchdog for every 2 thousand people, it is estimated that there are only one full-time ombudsman for every 8,650 long-term care residents in New York City.
Only six watchdogs were assigned to visit the city’s 50,000 residents in 244 facilities. In Queens, with the help of nine volunteers, the single ombudsman is responsible for looking after 17,000 residents in 84 facilities.
The 80 long-term care facilities in five boroughs do not have an ombudsman assigned to over 20,000 residents.
The state ranked 40th nationally in full-time ombudsmen for bed in 2018.
Mayor de Blasio contributed zero dollars for five years of funding for the event in 2017, and the government gave Cuomo just $ 600,000 to the city. The Lowball Ball serves a total resident bed of 34 7.34, while the rest of the country spends twice as much on the program, the report said.
“This research is heartbreaking, especially as New York City continues to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated our parents and grandparents in long-term care facilities,” Stringer said.
“Tragically, our failure to support long-term care can be measured in the human suffering among the pandemic. The disproportionately large number of COVID-19 deaths in our long-term care-facility residents must be a wake-up call,” he added.
Ombudsmen recognize abuse and neglect in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, but are prevented from checking residents during the coronavirus epidemic, along with other visitors.
State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) has urged the governor to connect residents with ombudsmen by telephone and e-mail during the crisis.
“Scott Stringer is targeting the underfunding of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program,” Gottfried told The Post.
“This is an important program for nursing-home residents and their families, and it relies heavily on volunteers. Our nursing homes have long been short-lived, and staff are low on state quality enforcement, ”he said.
Of the nearly 25 thousand coronavirus deaths in the state, 6,208 were nursing-home residents, and half of those deaths were in New York City facilities.
Stringer recommends raising city and state funding for the full-time ombudsman for every 2,000 nursing-home residents by at least $ 2.5 million per year.
De Blasio’s spokesman said the state’s sole responsibility was to fund the event.
A Cuomo spokeswoman said visitors were prevented from visiting facilities during the pandemic to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The thesis of this report is just wrong,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
He said the state health department had inspected 1,000 nursing homes since March 1 and investigated 4,880 complaints of ombudsmen last year.
“We are currently working on ways to reinvent the program to expand the volunteer base and offer increased options for communication between residents and ombudsman who rely less on individual visits,” said Azzopardi.