NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday the New York State Department of Health will allow for visitation of residents in nursing homes.
Cuomo said the visitation guidance will be in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance will be available starting Monday, February 22.
NYSDOH recommends visitors take a rapid test before entry and it will provide the rapid tests to nursing homes at no cost.
The governor said all nursing home staff and residents have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine and 73% of nursing home residents are now vaccinated.
Marcella Goheen is the founder of Essential Care Visitors. Goheen started the group when the initial lock down began, holding rallies and writing letters to state leaders.
“The fact that the dam has broke, and that we can safely get in to resume care, is giving us an opportunity to save people’s lives,” Goheen said.
She said she believes that since the pandemic society as a whole has recognized that families of those in nursing homes are critical caregivers along with nursing home staff.
Theresa Vitagliano of Wheatfield said she's seen her uncle with dementia, who lives in a nursing home, since March. She said Christmas was particularly difficult for her family.
“I think he feels like we’re not coming to see him because we don’t want to, you know what I mean, and so it’s very sad," Vitagliano said. "It's been very very trying .”
A situation that will now change, according to Cuomo's announcement.
“I really cried, like right now I feel some kind of, you know, heartfelt sense of relief,” Vitagliano said.
Cuomo continues to face criticism from lawmakers in both parties on his administration's handling of nursing home deaths. He said he will not sign the state budget unless it includes nursing home reform.