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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.
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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.
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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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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

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An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

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The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”

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