ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A state judge has ordered New York’s Department of Health to release records about nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 in hospitals, after ruling in favor of Sen. Jim Tedisco, who filed a lawsuit to obtain the data.
Tedisco believes less people would have died if Cuomo did not order nursing homes to allow residents recovering from COVID back to the facilities.
"He's gone through contortions as you know with that March executive direction to say 'hey, we cant discriminate against those who have COVID,' you have to put them into a nursing home with individuals that may be compromised but probably would be alive today if they didn't intermingle with those individuals who were put in there with COVID," said Tedisco.
The judge on Wednesday said the health department's failure to do provide the data was already a “violation” of New York’s open government law.
The order comes just a week after a report by Attorney General Letitia James' office showed nursing home deaths in the state could have been undercounted by as much as 50%.
NYS Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker said the data categorized deaths by location, so if a nursing home resident died in a hospital, it wasn't listed as a 'nursing home death.'
Tedisco says he wants to see the more detailed data to determine where outbreaks may have originated. He and Empire Center filed the suit.
"He's gotten to the point now where he's saying if you died in a nursing home - it's a nursing home death, if you died in the hospital it's a hospital death. We know there's a big difference in what he is trying to put forward to us," said Tedisco. "The purpose and importance of understanding who died in the hospital is not that they lost their lives in a hospital - the hospital's didnt destroy their lives, it's where the contagion was generated and that was in the nursing homes."
The Department of Health had argued that it needed months to compile records about long-term care residents who died at hospitals.
But the judge noted nursing homes have to file daily reports of all residents who die from COVID-19, regardless of where they died.
The judge ordered the Department of Health to release the information within five business days.