Advocacy group critical of state Department of Health’s ‘weak’ enforcement of nursing homes (WIVB)

Daniel Telvock - WIVB

Originally published in WIVB

Senator Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, said New York’s nursing home problems are well known. He said enforcement at the state level was so bad that he joined Erie County Mark Poloncarz a few years ago to support a change in county law that allowed the local health department to levy fines against nursing home operators. That law, known as “Ruthie’s Law”, was overturned by the court last year.

In addition, state lawmakers last year passed legislation that requires nursing homes to spend 70% of revenue on direct patient care and at least 40% of that on resident staffing. These new rules are on hold by the governor in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Sometimes it feels as though the Department of Health is the three monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” Ryan said. “Like you don’t know what’s going on with them and they want to be willfully ignorant. That’s a real problem.”

But Gov. Kathy Hochul will set the tone, Ryan said, and he has some faith that new leadership at the state Department of Health could lead to improvements at nursing homes across New York.

“The governor is going to put her stamp on the Department of Health, and we hope that part of that stamp will be more aggressive enforcement along with more transparency,” Ryan said.

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