EDITORIAL: Look back into Cuomo nursing home policy

Bassett
PHOTOGRAPHER:

“I decided when I took up this post that I wasn’t going to try and unravel what had happened to cause that massive electrical blackout under the previous power supplier. But simply look forward.”

“I decided when I took up this post that I wasn’t going to try and unravel what had happened to cause that bridge to collapse under the previous highway superintendent. But simply look forward.”

“I decided when I took up this post that I wasn’t going to try and unravel what had happened in the nursing homes under the previous commissioner. But simply look forward.”

Three statements, all equally mind-boggling in their cluelessness.

The first two, we made up. The last one was actually uttered by new state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett during her Senate confirmation hearing earlier this week.

And it raises serious questions about her willingness to get to the root of a dangerous policy of the Cuomo administration.

The quote came while state Sen. Jim Tedisco was asking her what lessons she might have learned from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s much-criticized policy to force nursing homes to accept former residents who had been previously hospitalized with covid.

The policy may have contributed to many deaths, and the Cuomo administration was accused of both underreporting the actual number of deaths and refusing to release the data to the public.

Bassett further responded to Tedisco that she has never read the March 25, 2020, order and does not intend to revisit the Cuomo administration’s policies regarding nursing homes, according to a PBS report. Instead, she said, she instead prefers to be transparent in the future.

Well, here’s a quote the new health commissioner might put to memory from Sir. Winston Churchill: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Bassett can say all she wants that she would never support a policy like the nursing home decision and that she would be open with such numbers in the future.

But people at the time of the nursing home order — those with credentials and authority equal to hers now — somehow managed to make that decision under the pressure of an emergency. Certainly there were factors they considered and processes that they followed before handing it down.

Wouldn’t it be in the best interests of all New Yorkers, and particularly nursing home residents and other vulnerable individuals, to know what those where and what specific steps are being taken in response to ensure they’re not repeated in some way? If you don’t look back, how can you look forward?

The commissioner’s dismissal of the question was not only disappointing, it was irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Let’s hope she reconsiders the value of hindsight and provides New Yorkers a full picture of what really led to that decision.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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