NY nursing home vacancies soar during COVID-19 crisis, report shows

Ns News Online Desk:Ns News Online Desk: The coronavirus pandemic has emptied out scores of New York’s nursing homes, new data obtained by The Post reveal.

Reports provided to the US Centers for Disease Control show that occupancy rates at 146 of the state’s nursing homes and rehab facilities plummeted by more than 20 percent since the end of last year– with most of the soaring vacancies occurring in New York City and the surrounding suburbs.

Some nursing facilities reported occupancy rates had tumbled by more than 40 percent or 50 percent through the first week of June, according to figures filed with the CDC last month.

Overall, the census of patients for all of New York’s 600 nursing dropped by 13 percent – seventh highest in the country. New Jersey had a 22 percent drop in nursing home residents – leading the nation.

New York has reported more than 6,300 COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo referred to how COVID-19 cuts down senior citizens “like fire through dry grass.”

Cuomo himself has come under fire for a controversial March 25 order – since repealed — that required nursing homes to admit or readmit recovering COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals that critics claim contributed to the disease spreading through facilities filled with the vulnerable, older residents.

A recent state Health Department insisted that nursing home workers and visitors were responsible for spreading the virus in nursing homes – not state policy.

COVID-19 deaths are only one reason for the empty beds. The fear of a loved one catching the killer bug and visitation restrictions also have caused a marked drop in New York families wanting to move into a nursing home, industry sources said.

They also note that nursing homes and rehab centers have received fewer hospital referrals for patients requiring post-surgical care. Cuomo issued an order in March that postpone elective surgeries so hospitals could devote resources to treat a surge of COVID-19 patients. He lifted the ban on surgeries when the crisis subsided.

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