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AG James calls for stronger protections for New York’s nursing home workers

New York State Attorney General Letitia James called for stronger protections for nursing home workers on Monday, March 21.

On Monday, James held a joint press conference with 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, where she pointed to her office’s January 2022 report that found nursing homes were ill-equipped to handle the COVID-19 crisis at their facilities due to staffing issues and lack of compliance with infectious disease control protocols. The report also revealed the NYS Department of Health undercounted the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 by as much as  50%.

Related: REPORT: New York may have undercounted COVID-19 deaths by 50%

Audit confirms DOH was ill-prepared to respond, undercounted COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

James and 1199SEIU President George Gresham called for a requirement for nursing homes to “implement appropriate staff-to-resident ratios and invest sufficiently in employee wages and facility operations,” according to a press release.

“For more than two years, these essential workers have worked around the clock to protect and provide for our most vulnerable residents,” said James. “As the pandemic devastated our communities, it became painfully clear that our healthcare industry was ill-equipped to deal with such a crisis. Chronic understaffing, lack of infection control protocols, and poor training contributed to the tragic deaths of nursing home residents and workers alike. These essential workers laid down their lives for the rest of us, and it’s time for us to give them the support they need and deserve.”