Daughter of nursing home resident concerned as facilities await rapid COVID-19 tests
Nursing home visitation is now opening up across the state, but some facilities haven't received rapid COVID tests as promised.
The state expanded guidelines last week allowing family members to visit their loved ones in nursing homes. It includes requiring a negative COVID-19 test three days before scheduled visitations - and the Department of Health is responsible for providing those tests at no cost.
Visitations through windows and doors are the only way Patricia Sullivan sees her mother who has dementia and lives at a Spring Valley nursing home.
"I want to see my mom before she dies. I want to hug her, you don't know how long they have," she says.
After a year of separation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that nursing home visitation will be allowed.
Before that can happen, the state is requiring visitors provide a negative COVID-19 test taken three days before visitation.
Gov. Cuomo promised that the Department of Health would provide those tests, saying the DOH would provide the rapid tests to nursing homes for free.
A spokesperson for Pine Valley Center, where Sullivan's mom lives, says while the state has provided rapid tests for employees, they have yet to receive any to test visitors.
News 12 also called several nursing homes in the area. All but one told News 12 that they have not received rapid COVID-19 tests from the state for visitations.
Visitors are being asked to get their own rapid test which aren't always available or free - or opt for a regular COVID-19 test, which may not come back in time for visitation.
Sullivan is getting tested on Wednesday and she will only get to see her mother if her results are back by the weekend.
After News 12 contacted the Department of Health, Pine Valley was contacted by them saying they can use tests provided by the DOH for workers on visitors and promised to provide more tests for visitors this month.
The DOH issued a statement saying, “In January and February DOH provided more than 1.1M rapid tests to nursing homes statewide for staff testing, and we encouraged facilities to use a portion of these rapid tests to accommodate nursing home visitation beginning this past Friday. DOH is actively working to increase the allotments of rapid tests provided to nursing homes so there are rapid tests available for visitors.”