As nursing homes guard against COVID-19, state lawmakers pass a bill to hold facilities more accountable

As nursing homes guard against COVID-19, state lawmakers pass a bill to hold facilities more accountable

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Nursing home patients coming down with COVID-19 is still a worry. Three did recently at United Helpers in Canton. The nursing home tracked down how they got it.

“Our investigation shows that we had an asymptomatic employee, who is continually being tested, who ultimately came back with a positive test,” said United Helpers C.E.O. Steve Knight.

All three are in Canton-Potsdam hospital in stable condition. In-person visits have been ended at the nursing home. They had just started up after a four-month ban.

“When three people tested positive you don’t know how far it’s going to go. So we just thought that we would reduce any variable that might add to the confusion until we had a handle on what was going on,” Knight said.

At St. Joseph’s Home and Massena Rehabilitation and Nursing no patients have caught the disease. It’s different elsewhere. New York has a COVID-19 nursing home death toll of more than 6,000. The state legislature passed a bill to chip away at immunity from lawsuits for nursing homes.

Nursing homes were granted that immunity in a provision buried in the state budget passed in April. But then deaths soared in nursing homes. And some state legislators wanted to make those facilities more accountable.

Knight said nursing homes focus on the job at hand and not Albany. Staff is focused on patients. In-person visits are still going on outside at United Helpers in Ogdensburg.

“It’s been going very well. Families are really excited that they get to see their loved ones now,” said nursing director Brittany Thornton.

Each of the three nursing homes contacted by 7News has had a few staff members test positive for COVID-19. Those people are subject to quarantine before coming back to work.

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