From the Governors’ Mansions to the Nursing Homes: Democrat Mistakes Hurt Our Seniors

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

By Scott Spitzer

This Wuhan Virus pandemic has been harsh and a horrible blot on our country and the world that almost seems akin to a plague from biblical times. Countless loved ones, jobs, security and savings have been quickly taken from so many. Our people are scared. It is natural then that we turn to our elected leaders, and those that serve under them, to provide leadership and to implement thoughtful initiatives to stop this scourge.

Our state governors have been trying to address this uncharted horror. But trying your honest best is simply not good enough when so much is at stake. Performance, not effort, are what count. Unfortunately, we have not been well-served by several of our nearby governors.

The state governments in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were terribly unprepared for this pandemic. Many of their hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded and understaffed on a normal day. If you entered the emergency room of any New York City hospital before the pandemic on almost any evening, the overcrowding was notable. The pandemic highlighted and exacerbated these shortcomings. Beyond overcrowding and under-staffing, few of these hospitals had sufficient PPE resources on hand. This shortage was dramatically and pathetically evidenced by pictures of nurses resorting to wearing garbage bags instead of the PPE that they should have had available to them.

The leaders of these three states, also made an egregious policy choice. Democrat Governors Cuomo of New York, Murphy of New Jersey, and Wolf of Pennsylvania mandated that nursing homes were required to readmit COVID-19 positive patients after discharge from hospitals. These wrongheaded policies turned nursing homes into killing fields. One observer described it as throwing a match into a pile of dry tinder. Eventually, New York made a complete reversal of Governor Cuomo’s statewide policy, but only after 5,000 elderly citizens died.

Approximately 70% of the almost 4,000 Wuhan Virus deaths in Pennsylvania have occurred in nursing homes. It is emblematic of such ineptitude and pure hypocrisy that the Pennsylvania Health Secretary, who oversees nursing homes, reportedly moved her own 95-year-old mother out of a local nursing home at the same time that Pennsylvania’s nursing home deaths were increasing. In New Jersey, approximately 50% of the Wuhan Virus deaths have been among seniors in nursing homes and nursing home staff.  The most shocking example was the discovery of 17 bodies at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, which had become overwhelmed by the number of cases in their facility.

This executive ineptitude stands in contrast with the dramatically lower senior citizen death total under Republican Governor DeSantis of Florida, despite Florida having very large senior and nursing home populations. Governor DeSantis and his administration made a clear and unequivocal policy decision at the start of the pandemic: Florida hospitals have been prohibited from discharging seniors who tested positive for the Wuhan Virus back to nursing homes.

The New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania governors were unprepared and made a policy decision that greatly harmed our seniors.  Are the governors apologetic? Not in the least. Instead, they doubled down on their misguided instructions without coherent explanation. These governors will not admit any fault for their decisions and policies that harmed our most vulnerable population. Not surprisingly, these governors and their staffs try to place blame on the nursing homes for insufficient care. This is cruel and makes no sense. The largest number of nursing home deaths due to the Wuhan Virus in New Jersey have been in their own state-run Veterans Memorial Home in Paramus, New Jersey.

It is never easy to make correct policy choices when problems are unprecedented. Serving as an executive is challenging, but these governors took the job voluntarily, made catastrophic errors and must be held accountable for the consequences of their actions. They should not be lauded, as they are in the mainstream media, but voted out of office. As Milton Friedman said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Scott Spitzer is the Fairfax GOP’s vice chairman for administration.

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