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Gov. Hochul apologizes to families of nursing home COVID victims in closed-door meeting

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Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with relations of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 — and apologized to them for the ache attributable to her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo’s, dealing with of the disaster, The Post has discovered.

The families, led by Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), introduced the governor with a listing of calls for, together with elder-care reforms and that the state personal up for its controversial directive believed to have elevated the loss of life toll amongst nursing home residents.

“At the very top of the meeting, after we introduced ourselves, she (Hochul) leaned in pretty hard and opened up with an apology to the families about what they had to go through as a result of these policies,” Kim mentioned.

“It was obviously a private apology, but I think it really touched the families. That’s something they’ve been asking for — to be treated decently as human beings.”

a patient is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical workers outside Cobble Hill Health Center in the Brooklyn
A affected person is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical employees exterior Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn.
AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

He added: “It was a genuine, empathetic moment that stood out to us.”

It was a stark change from the habits of Cuomo’s lackeys, the lawmaker mentioned.

“There wasn’t an inkling of dismissiveness or her saying that we don’t have the facts — as the previous governor used to be — there was no dismissiveness in her tone.”

The families and Kim, whose uncle died of suspected COVID-19 final 12 months in a nursing home, had been requesting a sit-down with Hochul since she took over following Cuomo’s resignation in late August.

Haydee Pabey holds a picture of the deceased Elba Pabey as demonstrators gather for a rally decrying New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's handling of nursing homes during the previous years outbreak of COVID-19
Haydee Pabey holds an image of the deceased Elba Pabey as demonstrators collect for a rally decrying former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dealing with of nursing houses throughout COVID-19, March 25, 2021.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Janice Dean attends the "Fox & Friends" naturalization ceremony for Veterans Day at Fox News Channel Studios on November 11, 2019 in New York City.
Janice Dean misplaced each her mom and father-in-law to COVID-19 in March and April 2020.
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

The roughly hour-long meeting on Tuesday afternoon happened on the governor’s Manhattan workplaces and was “very emotional” with “lots of crying going on,” Kim mentioned.

Other attendees included Voices for Seniors founder Vivan Zayas, whose mom Ana Martinez died of COVID-19 in a nursing home, and Fox News meteorologist and elder-care advocate Janice Dean, who misplaced each her mom and father-in-law to the virus in March and April 2020, respectively.

“For the first time since we began or quest for accountability on behalf of our families that died from Covid in nursing homes last spring, we met today with @GovKathyHochul,” Dean wrote on Twitter. “It was a small step but an important one to get answers. It would not have happened without @rontkim.”

The group requested an announcement from the state that the Department of Health’s March 25, 2020 mandate that nursing houses admit coronavirus sufferers had “led to thousands of untimely and unnecessary deaths.”

Other calls for included:

  • That Hochul assist a “bipartisan investigation with subpoena power into the nursing home crisis”;
  • That she launch all remaining nursing home knowledge and pending Freedom of Information Law requests;
  • That she direct the DOH to conduct a “re-audit” of all COVID-related nursing home deaths;
  • Pass a invoice making a nursing home victims compensation fund;
  • and that she dedicate a “nursing home victim memorial.”

“It was a good first meeting and they committed to continue to work with us on our requests,” Kim mentioned, including that governor’s workers additionally spoke with the group to focus on particulars of the requests following the face-to-face.

Assemblyman Ron Kim
Assemblyman Ron Kim led the families in presenting the governor with a listing of calls for.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

NYPD detective Haydee Pabey, 54, who misplaced her 72-year-old mom Elba Pabey to COVID-19 in a nursing home, was additionally on the meeting — and was grateful for Hochul’s apology.

“I was in tears, I was a mess — everybody just started crying,” Pabey recalled. “But the governor opened up the meeting very welcoming and warm. It felt good. She apologized for the pain that we have endured. She did say that they will do the best they can.”

“It was hitting a brick wall with the last administration,” Pabey added. “We had no answers and no one would get back to us.”

Peter Arbeeny (L) and Daniel Arbeeny (R) holding a photo of their father Norman Arbeeny inside their father’s home at 128 Amity Street in Brooklyn, where their father passed away due to COVID-19.
Peter Arbeeny, left, and Daniel Arbeeny holding a photograph of their father Norman Arbeeny inside their father’s home in Brooklyn, the place their father handed away due to COVID-19.
Kevin C. Downs

Peter Arbeeny, 55, the proprietor of an air-con enterprise who misplaced his 89-year-old dad Norman Arbeeny to the virus, additionally appreciated the apology, however was extra cautious.

“It was a good first step for a new governor,” he mentioned. “I won’t know what it means yet until we see these promises turned into actions.”

Still, Arbeeny mentioned, a high precedence for him was seeing a re-audit of nursing home deaths, and he instructed The Post that Hochul had dedicated to getting it performed. Shortly earlier than she took workplace, Hochul had promised that her administration can be “very transparent” when it comes to releasing paperwork pertaining to COVID-19 nursing home deaths 

Daniel arbeny on left, haydee Paybe, Ron Kim, Alexa Rivera in middle, Janice Dean, Sean dean, Peter arbeny on right
Daniel Arbeny, Haydee Paybe, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Alexa Rivera, Janice Dean, Sean Dean and Peter Arbeny.
Ron Kim

Kim mentioned the gov’s legislative director would even be working with the group on a memorial and compensation fund.

He famous that Hochul appeared inclined to get one other meeting on the books as soon as the brand new well being commissioner, Mary Bassett, comes in, following the resignation of Cuomo appointee Howard Zucker.

Zucker was a key determine in the Cuomo administration, whose March 25, 2020 directive is blamed for placing many of the casualties of nursing houses in hurt’s means by mandating that COVID-19 contaminated sufferers be despatched again to nursing houses from hospitals.

Dr. Howard A. Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, speaks during a news conference on coronavirus vaccination at Suffolk County Community College on Monday, April 12, 2021
Dr. Howard A. Zucker resigned from his place as state well being commissioner.
Michael M. Santiago/Pool by way of AP

He can also be accused of serving to Cuomo and his aides cover the pandemic’s true loss of life toll throughout the state and in its nursing houses.

“One thing that is clear is as soon as the new commissioner of health comes in, she personally would like to participate in a follow up discussion,” Kim mentioned.

“It’s important going forward that families have access, and an ability for them to shape policies that impact their families,” he added.

Hochul’s workplace didn’t instantly return The Post’s request for remark.

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