New York State (WRGB) — A March 2020 directive that ordered Covid-positive patients to be placed in nursing homes may not get a full investigation by the state health department.
New York State Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett was in the hot seat on Wednesday, January 19th answering questions from senators as they consider her nomination to be in a position permanently.
However, some of her answers came under fire after she said she’s not going to examine her predecessor’s handling of the pandemic, particularly the directive that ordered nursing homes to take in Covid-positive patients.
Republican Senator Sue Serino of Dutchess County questioned the commissioner about this during Wednesday’s hearing.
“With regard to the March 25th (2020) order of putting Covid positive patients into the nursing homes, when you talked about being a doctor first, and foremost, do you believe that order actually put people in harm’s way?” Serino asked Bassett.
“I really can’t comment on this. I haven’t examined this personally,” answered Bassett.
Serino also asked Bassett whether she supports a full review of New York’s pandemic response.
Like I said whether you agree or not I just want to be clear that I decided not to look back,” answered Bassett.
Serino spoke with CBS6 after the hearing explaining her reasons for why a full investigation is needed.
“We cannot afford to repeat those mistakes of the past and that starts with unraveling exactly what went wrong,” Serino said. “To have accepted this job without reading the most controversial order of the pandemic defies logic. And it’s basically one page, one piece of paper.”
Republican Senator Jim Tedisco was also at Wednesday’s hearing. He says he was surprised by Dr. Bassett’s answers.
“I was shocked,” said Tedisco.
“She didn’t tell the families that ‘that was wrong’ and she didn’t tell the families that ‘I would never have done that,’” said Tedisco.
Carol D’Elisiis, Who is an advocate for nursing home residents and their families, says that she is also upset with the Commissioner’s statements. Her mother was in a nursing home before her death in April.
“I’m very upset they are not investigating the Covid deaths but I’m not surprised,” said D’Elisiis.
NYSDOH issued a statement saying “As Dr. Bassett said repeatedly during today’s hearings, she will continue to focus on our older and most vulnerable New Yorkers , especially those living in Long Term Care congregate settings. Dr. Bassett will continue to be honest, open and transparent and will always make recommendations based on science and data. She made this point when interviewing for the job with Governor Hochul, and she is grateful that the Governor has relied on science and the expertise of the Department of Health in creating COVID-19 policies that have helped turn the tide against the Omicron winter surge.
CBS6 reached out to three Democratic senators who were present at the hearing to see how they felt about Dr. Bassett’s response but we are still waiting to hear back. We will bring you their responses when they become available