ALBANY – A group of New York State politicians and families of those who died in nursing homes during the COVID pandemic are honoring “We Care Remembrance Day.”
“Two years ago, on March 25, 2020 the former Governor issued an Executive Order that sent over 9,000 COVID positive patients to unprepared nursing homes. This wasn’t just an Executive Order, it was a declaration of eldercide in the state of New York,” explained 40th district Assemblyman Ron Kim.
Kim explains, after the order, former Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to cover up the 15,000 deaths instead of offering nursing home residents’ loved ones the tools to care for them in their own home.
Senator Sue Serino of the 41st district voiced concerns about the lack of investigation into the event, even when a new Governor took office.
“The state drastically undercounted the number of nursing home deaths,” says Serino. “The question that remains today is why? We certainly think we know why. But until an independent investigation is completed, lawmakers and others can bury their heads in the sand in hopes that moving forward means that we will forget.”
The senators called for a bipartisan independent investigation at the health commissioner’s office with full subpoena powers.
Founders of Voices for Seniors Vivian Rivera Zayas and Alexa Rivera attended the event in honor of their mother Ana, who was set to be released from the nursing home before the Executive Order that ultimately ended her life.
“It really falls on us to ensure that all the seniors in every facility in every state, especially the state of New York, is treated with dignity and love,” says Rivera Zayas. “And that they spend their last days in the comfort of their family and treated with respect.”
The daughters are calling for the expansion of the statute of limitations for the event, as well as the investigative bill which would establish a temporary state commission to study and investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic response on deaths in nursing homes.
Funding for the investigation would need to be included in the state budget set to be finalized on April 1.