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Hawley: Governor needs to own up to his mistakes for tragedy of nursing home deaths

By Press Release

From Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Taking ownership of our decisions is something that we’re taught the importance of from a young age, such as when our schoolteachers told us the story of George Washington and his famous cherry tree. While that tale was just an American folk story, it taught us all that our greatest leaders are honest and take responsibility for their actions, just as we all should as citizens.

That message is more relevant than ever following our governor’s inability to take responsibility for the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers in our nursing homes. 

The unfathomable loss of life that took place this year is the greatest tragedy I’ve witnessed in my time as a legislator in Albany. As lawmakers and as human beings, we should all feel angry about the cover up that they tried to hide from us.

In recent months, we’ve heard lots in the media about unity and coming together to do what’s right. While in this moment, we have been provided the opportunity to stand together against something we should all be able to recognize as wrong.

The issue at hand is nothing nuanced or technical. The simple fact of the matter is that thousands of people died because of decisions our governor made, and we have been presented with a choice. Lawmakers can choose to seek justice and stand with the people or defend his wrongdoings and stand for his political interests.

We need hearings to hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable, and despite the hesitance of some in the Majority to do so, we need to disempower the governor to prevent him making further bad decisions that could bring our state even more pain.

With our governor clearly unwilling to own up to his own mistakes, we in the Legislature need to take back our role in government to protect our most vulnerable.

We all need to recognize that this tragedy was caused by the deliberate and unwise actions of our governor, and that it would be negligent of us to let him retain the emergency powers he used to hurt so many people.

All eyes are on us to see if we can do the right thing, and I assure you that the countless people in this state who had the ones they loved taken from them will not soon forget who had the conviction to stand up for the people, versus those who cared more about political gamesmanship and their own well-being.

In a time when people trust their government less than ever to do what’s right, let’s come together for once to address something we can all agree is reprehensible — the intentional coverup of thousands of preventable deaths.

Hawley calls on President Trump to direct CDC to release data on statewide COVID-19 deaths

By Press Release

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley rallied alongside his Assembly Republican colleagues in a letter to President Trump requesting that he assist them in obtaining data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state, including those in nursing homes.

For months now, we have written to the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, requesting this information but have not been provided with a firm number of COVID-19 fatalities in New York State. In a hearing in August, NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker also refused to provide this data, stating he was concerned it would not be fully accurate.

“When thousands of people die, families deserve answers,” Hawley said. “Giving the families that suffered irreplaceable losses closure on this matter is the least we could do for them, and we need to know as much about this tragedy as we can to assure we never endure loss like this again.

"For these reasons, I ask the president to direct the CDC to release this information and give New Yorkers the answers they deserve regarding this unthinkable loss of life.”

'Save Our Seniors' -- peaceful protest Saturday at City Hall against continued lockdown of seniors

By Billie Owens

Friends and family members concerned about lack of visitation with the old folks they love will hold a protest in front of Batavia City Hall on Saturday.

It will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at One City Centre in Downtown Batavia.

"We want to see our loved ones," said Oakfield resident and organizer Beverly Noody. "It's not about their living conditions or problems with the local facilities, it's about not being able to visit them."

Although the Finger Lakes Region is in Phase Four of reopening under New York On PAUSE, a regionalized plan to flatten the COVID-19 infection rate, organizers are pushing back on what they say are officials' continued insistence to keep seniors under lockdown.

They disagree with the continuation of the mandate put forth by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Department of Health, and the nation's Centers for Disease Control.

"It's been six months with no end in sight," Noody said.

For example, if they test everyone at a facility on Monday, and an employee receives a positive result, including the possibility of a false positive, they quarantine everyone for 28 days, well beyond the 14-day period it's believed infected people might be able to spread the disease. 

"We have small facilities here -- can you imagine at places three times as big, what that means?" Noody asked. "They'll never be able to have visitors. It's an impossible standard."

The lack of visitation, along with not offering group activities, outside activities, music programs, church services, etc., has taken a toll on the residents and their families, according to organizers.

"It's depressing," Noody said. "Can you imagine that same thing every day? They are encouraged to stay in their room. All they have is TV."

Staff will trim men's hair, but not the ladies'. She's not sure about whether they trim their nails, something family members often took care of.

Seeking change and greater awareness of the situation, those rallying to "Save Our Seniors" will be distributing flyers and "letting people know that these residents need to have their rights back," says Dana Kelley, one of the organizers.

People who share this view are encouraged to speak up, show up and tell others, Kelley added.

Questions? Call Beverly Noody at (585) 356-7581.

Mostly good news for Genesee County nursing homes in Medicare ratings report

By Philip Anselmo

An article in the Buffalo News this morning states that 14 of the 81 nursing homes in Western New York received one out of five stars in a ratings report released by Medicare. Twelve of the nursing homes received the top rating of five stars, including two in Batavia.

From that article:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services assigned nearly 16,000 nursing homes across the nation a star rating — from a low of one star to a high of five stars — based on health inspection surveys, staffing information and quality-of-care measures. Consumers can view the ratings, as well as the individual measures, at the agency’s Nursing Home Compare Web site at . The agency, which released the ratings Thursday, plans to update them monthly. “Our goal in developing this unprecedented quality rating system is to provide families a straightforward assessment of nursing home quality, with meaningful distinctions between high-and low-performing homes,” the centers’ acting administrator, Kerry Weems, said in a statement.

We checked the listing and found that the Batavia Nursing Home on State Street and the Veterans Home at the VA Medical Center on Richmond Avenue both received an overall rating of five out of five stars. The Genesee County Nursing Home on Bank Street received a total of four stars. Le Roy Village Green received two stars. That was it for this county.

As for specifics, the Batavia Nursing home received five stars for both Health Inspections and Quality Measures, yet a paltry two stars for Nursing Home Staffing. Ratings for staffing are based upon the number of licensed nurses available on staff and their hours of availability. New York holds an average of 173 resident nurses per facility, according to the report. Batavia Nursing Home has a total of 61 who spend a total of 25 minutes with a resident per day, compared with the average of 36 for the state. Despite the below average rating for staffing, Batavia Nursing Home was still granted the status of "much above average" overall.

The Veterans Home on Richmond received four stars for both Health Inspections and Quality Measures, and five stars for Nursing Home staffing. Please follow the links above to see the details of all the homes in Genesee County, and to check out the ratings for other nursing homes in the region.

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