#Nursing-home madness: Andrew Cuomo, Howard Zucker put butt-covering first

#Nursing-home madness: Andrew Cuomo, Howard Zucker put butt-covering first

June 9, 2020 | 7:17pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Health Department made a huge deal out of last month’s order that nursing homes test all staff for COVID-19 twice a week. Funny that they seem unconcerned that it can take weeks for the test results to actually come back.

The Post’s Bernadette Hogan broke that last bit of news in Tuesday’s paper: Chautauqua Nursing and Rehab Center administrator Margaret Wagner says she’s tested her 325 employees four times in two weeks and hasn’t gotten a single result back from the two labs she used.

It’s “defeating the purpose,” she frets. Yet the Health Department says this complies with its order. What’s the point?

Other homes see the same mess, though few will risk Cuomo’s wrath by saying so.

Because the main motive for the testing mandate was plainly for Cuomo and health chief Howard Zucker to look tough in the wake of Zucker’s disastrous March order to the homes — telling them to admit patients from hospitals without regard to COVID-19 status, indeed without any testing.

The order was always insane and looks worse now that over 6,000 home residents are dead from the virus. (And the true number could be well above 12,000.)

The new order — to 613 nursing homes and 500 adult-care facilities — isn’t as deadly, but it’s not practical either. It soon became plain that state-run labs couldn’t process the volume of tests that Zucker required, so homes have to pay private labs to do it— at a cost of around $41 million a week.

Worse, it’s causing problems for other parts of the health-care system: Elective surgeries — finally allowed again — are being canceled because hospitals aren’t receiving their own test results in time. The increasing nursing-home COVID-test load has pushed lab turnarounds from two or three days to five to seven days — outside the legal window.

We shudder to think what Health Department order comes next, to cover for that nightmare.


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