LISTEN: AG James launches hotline for nursing home questions, complaints

Kimberly Dole
April 23, 2020 - 8:15 pm
New York State Attorney General Letitia James

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) --  New York Attorney General Letitia James told 1010 WINS Thursday that she has helped assemble a unit that is focused on Medicaid fraud and abuses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm glad that the governor of the state of New York has issued this executive order, and he's going to deploy inspection teams across the state to assess risk and safety issues within the facility. We also, again, will expand access to testing by establishing testing and swabbing hubs and training," James said.

As of Wednesday, there were over 3,500 deaths attributed to nursing homes in the state.

Nursing home or adult care center fatalities make up approximately 23 percent of the state's coronavirus-related deaths.

Because of this, James was to ensure that every nursing home is provided with adequate PPE and "testing, testing, testing."

She also wants to implement enhanced infection control protocols to protect both residents and nursing home workers who risk their lives every day.

"It's important also that we communicate with the family members who are concerned about their loved ones," James said. "Right now, there's heightened anxiety and fear, and it's important that we communicate with loved ones."

According to the Health Facilities Association, nursing homes and assisted living providers weren't treated as a top priority for staffing assistance, PPE and testing. 

"It's important that New Yorkers understand that right now, nursing homes are petri dishes, and we need to strengthen enforcement of executive orders related to nursing homes and adult care facilities," James adds.  "We need to ensure that individuals in those nursing homes, the most vulnerable amongst us, are kept safe. My office will continue to work hard to protect nursing home residents and make sure their rights are preserved during this crisis and beyond."

James announced that she has launched a hotline to help workers, residents of family members of those in state nursing homes.

"What we need to do is hire more staff members and relax regulations so that we can hire these essential and critical workers to care for the most vulnerable amongst us," she said. "And we must increase the supply of PPE again for facilities in need. And lastly, it's important that we have accountability and transparency and that we report our infection rate and that we communicate with the loved ones who are in the care of."

Residents and families or members of the public wanting to share complaints or ask questions about nursing homes can call the hotline number (833) 249-8499.