NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. – Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, R-22, was in New Hartford Wednesday to introduce the federal Essential Caregivers Act, which would allow designated family members to have contact with nursing home residents during a pandemic or other health crisis.
Many residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities had little to no contact with loved ones throughout the coronavirus pandemic, due to policies that restricted visitation.
“One of the greatest tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic is that those living in nursing and group homes were put at greater risk because of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s negligent policies,” said Tenney. “Even worse is that they were forced to suffer for more than a year without the care, love, and support of their loved ones. The Essential Caregivers Act will ensure this never happens again by requiring long-term care facilities to guarantee access to designated essential caregivers during any public health crisis.”
Utica resident Karla Abraham Conley said didn’t see her mother for several months while she was isolated in a nursing home due to COVID-19 policies. Conley’s mother died shortly after she was released from the facility.
"I refuse to have another person die while I’m still alive from this. This is my mother's legacy,” said Conley. “This is justice for my mother. This is my fight because she died and I couldn't help her. My country didn't stand behind me."
Based on her experience, Conley helped draft the bill.
An Essential Caregiver Act was passed at the state level and signed into law by Cuomo in March. Tenney hopes the federal bill will pass by this fall.