In a reversal, New York will no longer require nursing homes to admit residents, regardless of their COVID-19 status, under newly released rules by Gov, Andrew Cuomo (D).

Hospitals cannot discharge patients to nursing homes in the state until they have tested negative for the disease. The state had previously required facilities to accept all patients from hospitals and prohibited them from requiring COVID-19 tests prior to admitting the resident. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D)

“We’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit. Period. If there’s any issue, the resident must be referred to the department of health which will find alternative care,” Cuomo said Sunday. 

Providers had called the mandate a “mistake” that would result in a higher number of deaths and hospitalizations. The state’s reversal shows that it listened to providers’ previous concerns, said Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities/New York State Center for Assisted Living. 

Hanse said the state and providers must continue to work together for solutions to assist long-term care operators. 

“We are all in this together, and together, all of our actions must be directed at safeguarding our most vulnerable and lead us to overcome our present circumstances and create a stronger and safer future,” Hanse said. 

In a statement, LeadingAge New York said it agrees with that providers shouldn’t be required to accept COVID-positive patients. The organization added that the “state has gone too far in banning hospital discharges of COVID-positive patients to nursing homes.”

“This policy could lead to major delays in vulnerable people receiving the nursing home care they need or returning to the facility that is their home, and ignores the fact that several nursing homes in New York, at the state’s encouragement, have set up dedicated units that are effectively caring for COVID-positive residents,” LeadingAge New York Executive Vice President Daniel Heim said. 

The state also announced a new mandate that requires all nursing home staff to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week. Nursing homes that fail to follow the new mandates will be at risk of losing their license. 

Hanse applauded the testing effort but added that providers “will need assistance from the state government to increase its on-site availability of testing for skilled nursing and assisted living employees.”