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Cuomo signs law granting families increased visitation to nursing homes

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Family members of nursing home residents — who have largely been cut off from seeing loved ones in facilities thanks to the coronavirus — cheered a new law granting them increased visitation rights.

The “Essential Caregivers” Act — sponsored by state Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) and Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) — signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Monday expands the federal definition of “compassionate care” visits, which right now only allowed on an emergency basis if a resident is very sick or dying.

Cases where individuals have shown a marked decline in physical, mental or emotional wellbeing — including reports of depression, cognitive decline, weight loss or other changes in physical or mental health in residents — would warrant family visits under the new law.

Family members have been limited to FaceTime or window visits over the better part of last year, after the state shut down all non-essential visits from family and friends to nursing homes on March 13, 2020.

Adam Sternbach, right, embraces his 89 year-old mother Maryann Sternbach for the first time in over a year inside the Hebrew Home at Riverdale on March 28, 2021 in the Bronx.
Adam Sternbach, right, embraces his 89 year-old mother Maryann Sternbach for the first time in over a year inside the Hebrew Home at Riverdale on March 28, 2021 in the Bronx.
AP

They have argued residents have declined in health due to isolation from loved ones for long periods of time. 

Although last week, the embattled state Health Department — which has been criticized for being too restrictive when it comes to visitation standards — did lift lockdown standards allowing residents to receive visitors.

“People don’t go to nursing homes to die, they go to nursing homes to get the care that they need, that supports the family care, and that’s why my husband is in a facility because I needed the support. I don’t have the option of bringing him home,” Marcella Goheen said Tuesday morning during a Zoom press conference.

Her husband, Bobby Viteri, 66, has lived in Manhattan’s Isabella Geriatric Facility for the last four years, he has a rare degenerative disease that prevents him from speaking, eating or moving on his own. 

Melvin Goldstein, 90, glances at pictures of birds, left, and a fish, his 13-year-old granddaughter drew for him as a gift as his daughter Barbara Goldstein shares them with his during a family visit inside the Hebrew Home at Riverdale on March 28, 2021.
Melvin Goldstein, 90, glances at pictures of birds, left, and a fish, his 13-year-old granddaughter drew for him as a gift as his daughter Barbara Goldstein shares them with him during a family visit inside the Hebrew Home at Riverdale on March 28, 2021.
AP

Goheen also filed a lawsuit against the home last fall in state supreme court seeking increased visitation rights, and has a court hearing scheduled for next month.

“He has a condition that needs full care, and I need that nursing home. I need that nursing home to be quality care.”

“This bill recognizes that the family are a huge part of that care, if not an essential part of that care, [an] integral part of that care, [the] main part of that care in partnership with the aides and the nurses,” she added.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with his daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, arrives at an event at the new Settlement Community Center in the Bronx on March 26, 2021.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with his daughter Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, arrives at an event at the new Settlement Community Center in the Bronx on March 26, 2021.
AP

The newly signed legislation would codify these visitation standards into New York’s public health law.

The bill becomes law in 45 days time, requiring the DOH to lay out specific guidelines for facilities throughout the state to follow. 

Over 15,000 individuals have died of confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases in adult care facilities since March 2020, per state records.

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NYPD releases video of gunman firing into group in the Bronx

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New video tweeted by the NYPD Sunday shows a gunman wildly firing down a Bronx street into a group of people in Fordham Manor, leaving two men wounded, cops said.

“WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy?” the NYPD wrote on Twitter.

“On 6/25/21 at approx 11:10 PM, in front of 2710 Morris Ave in the Bronx, the suspect fired several rounds towards a group, striking a 26-year-old male and a 20-year-old. Any info? DM @NYPDTips, or anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.”

The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
NYPD
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
NYPD
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
NYPD

The 26-year-old was shot in the buttocks and the 20-year-old was shot in the leg, police said. Both were expected to survive.

The victims said they were standing with a group of friends when the “guy just came up and started shooting,” a police spokesman said.

No words were exchanged, video shows. 

There were no immediate arrests.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
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Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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