From: Anthony Galletta
To: Governor Andrew Cuomo
I write to you after weeks of riding the health department merry-go-round, from New York State to Westchester County back to NYS each telling me the other has jurisdiction in reference to a family member, loved one, a senior, who resides in a New Rochelle nursing home.
This communication is not a reflection on the specific nursing home, so no need to mention it by name. They are operating under New York State Department of Health’s 3/21 directive as it pertains to COVID-19 and the treatment of nursing home residents.
Yesterday, in your daily briefing and multiple times in the past, you referenced New Rochelle as proof of how quickly COVID-19 spreads. You’ve continually stressed the value of testing while identifying the elderly, especially with underlying, pre-existing condition, as those most vulnerable. New Rochelle is documented as GROUND ZERO for COVID-19 in New York State.
I appreciate your daily updates. You provide all the facts and figures anyone could ask for. The problem is that I cannot obtain facts or figures in reference to the number of COVID-19 cases in the nursing home in which my loved one resides. This is due to the aforementioned 3/21 directive that advises nursing homes not to test nursing home residents who present with COVID-19 symptoms.
I am not a health official or doctor or nurse, but my reading of the directive in question is that any resident who presents with COVID-19 symptoms is to be presumed to have the virus and quarantined. My understanding has been confirmed by the nursing home and over the phone with Health Department phone advisors. This may appear to be sound policy except that seasonal flu has similar if not the exact symptoms. As a result nursing homes are placing patients with seasonal flu in isolation with patients with COVID-19 all but insuring that patients who could be expected to survive season flu are being infected with COVID-19 as a result of NYS DOH Policy.
Is there some untold appearance, crystal ball or other wishful prognostication that can determine which residents have which the COVID-19 virus without actual testing?
I apologize for my snarky approach but it keeps me from developing full-blown anxiety.
This policy is unfair to residents, doctors, nurses, cleaning staff and any other employee who may be assigned to a quarantined floor or interact with those working or residing on that floor. The reality is nursing home residents who may be suffering from seasonal flu may be unintentionally exposed to COVID-19, a truly deadly situation. There is no way to tell without testing these patients.
Employees who have no confirmation as to which residents have tested positive for COVID-19, could also be unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to the public. They need to know not guess.
There are other questions if a resident passes away: what is the cause of death in an untested resident?; is it automatically assumed to have COVID-19?, Is it assumed flu? Is it heart failure, or a pre-existing condition, with COVID-19 as an underlying condition?
Here is the question I really want answered: is a resident who passes tested for COVID-19 postmortem?
I have read reports to this being the case and if true…STOP…Catch your breath…collect your thoughts…And realize, if true, we have enough tests to perform test postmortem while we refuse to test when symptoms present and possibly save more lives. How is it possible that the New York State Department of Health advises NOT to test the very segment of the population they define as most vulnerable?
This policy is killing elderly patients. It needs to be revised immediately.