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NY officials clamp down on Plattsburgh nursing home over visitation plan

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - New York officials have sent a cease and desist order to a Plattsburgh nursing home after it announced plans this week to offer in-person visitation, violating state guidelines.

Meadowbrook Healthcare officials say they are weren’t surprised by the state’s order shutting down their compassionate care plan, but they are disappointed. The same goes for some family members who haven’t seen their loved ones in months.

"It's been 133 days. That's a long time," said Andrea Bull whose mom lives at Meadowbrook. She says she can't help but count the days since she was last able to hug her mom. "I don't think she really understands why we can't come see here."

Bull's mom was moved into Meadowbrook as a full-time resident last year. She says she suffers from late stage dementia and that the time apart from from family has been anything but helpful.

"My mom is dying. Her brain is dying. I want her to have her last days, months, living her best life. We want to enjoy that with her, whatever that looks like.," Bull said.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been over 6,500 deaths at New York long-term care facilities. That's why the state shut down visitation to help protect the vulnerable population. The state has specific criteria for in-person visits. There must be no COVID cases among residents and staff in the facility for 28 days, no staffing shortages and adequate PPE for the staff. Meadowbrook has had three staff members test positive for the virus and they are facing a staffing shortage.

Meadowbrook's Sandra Geddes says she wasn't surprised by Wednesday afternoon's order not to allow visitations. "The message that we were trying to send is that this is an inhumane treatment of elderly individuals that live in this nursing home, or any nursing home," she said.

Geddes says they canceled all plans for in-person visits, but still feel their compassionate care plan, where residents and their family would sign a waiver, is what would be best for its residents. "It would prevent them from all of these effects of loneliness, sadness and depression that they have been experiencing the last six months," she said.

In a statement, New York health officials said Thursday’s order was common sense.

“Meadowbrook’s disregard for DOH’s visitation guidance is reckless and demonstrates a blatant disregard for public health and safety. Given the vulnerability of the population they serve, Meadowbrook’s leadership has an obligation to protect their residents, and therefore is required to adhere to the same visitation guidance as the other 612 nursing homes in New York State,” said a health department spokesman.

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