Hochul apologizes to families of nursing home COVID victims

Governor Kathy Hochul held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday with relatives of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 – and apologized to her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, for the pain of dealing with the crisis, The Post has learned.

Families, led by Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), presented the governor with a list of demands, including elderly care reform and what the state believed to be a reduction in mortality among nursing home residents for its controversial directive. has increased.

“At the top of the meeting, when we introduced ourselves, she (Hochul) leaned hard and apologized to the families for what they had to do as a result of these policies,” Kim said.

“It was obviously a personal apology, but I think it really touched the families. That’s what they’re asking for – to be treated decently as humans.”

A patient is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical workers outside Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn
A patient is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical workers outside Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn.
AP Photo/John Minchillo, FILE

He added: “It was a genuine, sympathetic moment that stood out for us.”

The lawmaker said it was a big change from the behavior of Cuomo’s bastards.

“There was no sense of dismissal or his saying that we didn’t have the facts – as previous governors used to be – there was no dismissal in his tone.”

The family and Kim, whose uncle died of suspected COVID-19 in a nursing home last year, have been requesting to sit with Hochul since Cuomo’s resignation in late August.

Heidi Pabe holds a photo of the deceased Elba Pabe, as demonstrators gather for a rally in response to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's handling of the nursing home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Heidi Pabe holds a photo of the deceased Elba Pabe, as protesters gather for a rally to protest the handling of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home during COVID-19, March 25, 2021.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Janice Dean attended "fox and friends" Naturalization Ceremony for Veterans Day at Fox News Channel Studios on November 11, 2019 in New York City.
Janice Dean lost both her mother-in-law and father-in-law to COVID-19 in March and April 2020.
Roy Rochlin / Getty Images

Kim said the meeting, which lasted about an hour on Tuesday afternoon, took place at the governor’s Manhattan offices and was “very emotional”, with “a lot of crying going on”.

Other attendees included Voices for Seniors founder Vivan Zayas, whose mother, Ana Martinez, died of COVID-19 in a nursing home, and Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist and elder care attorney. Who had lost both his mother and father-in-law to the virus. in March and April 2020 respectively.

“The first time we started looking for accountability on behalf of our families or those who died from Covid in nursing homes last spring, we met @GovKathyHochul today,” Dean wrote on twitter. “It was a small step but an important step to get to the answer. It wouldn’t have happened without @rontkim.”

The group requested a declaration from the state that the health department’s March 25, 2020 order that nursing homes admit coronavirus patients “had caused thousands of untimely and unnecessary deaths.”

Other demands include:

  • He supports Hochul’s “bipartisan investigation with summoning power into the nursing home crisis”;
  • that it releases all remaining nursing home data and requests pending Freedom of Information Act;
  • that it instructs the DOH to “re-audit” all COVID-related nursing home deaths;
  • pass a bill creating a Nursing Home Victims Compensation Fund;
  • And she dedicates a “Nursing Home Victims Memorial.”

“It was a good first meeting and he committed to continue working with us on our requests,” Kim said, adding that the governor’s staff also spoke with the group to discuss the details of the requests one-on-one. .

Member of the Assembly Ron Kim
Assembly member Ron Kim led the families in presenting the governor with a list of demands.
James Messerschmidt for the NY Post

NYPD Detective Heidi Pabe, 54, who lost her 72-year-old mother, Elba Pabe, to COVID-19 in a nursing home, was also at the meeting — and was grateful for Hochul’s apology.

“I was in tears, I was a mess – everyone just started crying,” Pabe recalled. “But the governor opened the meeting very welcoming and warm. It felt good. He apologized for the pain we have endured. He said they would do their best.”

“It was hitting a brick wall with the previous administration,” Pabe said. “We had no answers and no one would come back to us.”

Peter Urbani (L) and Daniel Urbani (R) hold a photo of their father Norman Urbani inside their father's home at 128 Amity Street in Brooklyn, where his father passed away due to COVID-19 .
Peter Urbani, left, and Daniel Arbeny hold a photo of their father Norman Arbeny inside their father’s home in Brooklyn, where his father passed away due to COVID-19.
Kevin C. Downs

Peter Urbani, 55, an air-conditioning business owner who lost his 89-year-old father Norman Urbani to the virus, also applauded the apology but was more cautious.

“It was a good first step for a new governor,” he said. “I won’t know what this means until we see these promises turn into actions.”

Still, Arbini said, a top priority for him was to see a re-audit of nursing home deaths, and he told The Post that Hochul had committed to completing it. Shortly before taking office, Hochul promised that his administration would be “very transparent” when it comes to releasing documents related to deaths in COVID-19 nursing homes.

Daniel Urbani on the left, Heidi Pebe, Ron Kim, Alexa Rivera in the middle, Janice Dean, Sean Dean, Peter Urbani on the right
Daniel Arbeni, Heidi Pebe, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Alexa Rivera, Janice Dean, Sean Dean and Peter Urbani.
ron kim

Kim said the government’s legislative director would also work with the group on a memorial and compensation fund.

He said Hochul was keen to have another meeting on the books, following the resignation of Cuomo-appointed Howard Zucker, the arrival of the new health commissioner, Mary Bassett.

Zucker was a key figure in the Cuomo administration, who was blamed for causing several casualties to nursing homes following a March 25, 2020 directive that called for COVID-19 infected patients to be transferred from hospitals to nursing homes. be sent back to home.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A.  Zucker speaks during a news conference on coronavirus vaccination at Suffolk County Community College on Monday, April 12, 2021.
Dr. Howard A. Zucker resigned as the state health commissioner.
AP. via Michael M. Santiago/Pool

She is also accused of helping Cuomo and his associates hide the true death toll from the pandemic across the state and in her nursing homes.

“One thing that is clear is that as the new commissioner of health arrives, she would like to participate in the follow-up discussion in person,” Kim said.

“It’s important that families have access, and for them to have the ability to shape the policies that affect their families,” he said.

Hochul’s office did not immediately return the Post’s request for comment.


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