COVID-19 transfers not cause of nursing home deaths, New York officials say

New York hospitals transferred more than 6,000 COVID-19 patients to nursing homes this spring, although officials said these transfers did not cause an increase in nursing home deaths, according to a new report from the New York State Department of Health.

About 6,326 residents recovering from COVID-19 were readmitted to nursing homes between March 25 and May 8, according to the department's analysis of self-reported nursing home data. 

The transfers stemmed from a state policy requiring nursing homes to readmit residents who left the facility for COVID-19 treatment at a hospital in March. Officials walked back the policy in mid-May, only allowing hospitals to discharge a patient to a nursing home if he or she tested negative for the virus.

The health department found about 20,000 nursing home employees contracted the virus through April, the timing of which corresponds with peak nursing home deaths in New York. Peak nursing home admissions occurred a week after deaths peaked, suggesting that hospital transfers were not a major driver of COVID-19 infections or fatalities, according to the report. 

"It is likely that thousands of employees who were infected in mid-March transmitted the virus unknowingly — through no fault of their own — while working, which then led to resident infection," the health department said.

To view the full report, click here.

More articles on post-acute care:
Nursing homes fall short of federal testing recommendation
Wisconsin to test all nursing home residents, staff
Serious infection control issues found at 10 Life Care facilities, CMS says 

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