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Rensselaer County again blocks nursing home inspection

Oct 01, 2020 6:33 am
Kenneth C. Crowe II reports for the Times Union that for the second time during the pandemic Rensselaer County officials on Sept. 30 blocked a state Health Department inspection team from doing their jobs visiting a nursing home. “We just wanted the state to follow the state rules,” said Richard Crist, the county's director of operations, claiming that the inspectors wouldn’t provide proof they had tested negative for COVID-19. But state officials have a different story. “When the county executive pulled the same stunt back in July we warned him that it would ultimately be his nursing home residents and county taxpayers that would pay the price. Although not required by federal mandate, our inspectors are tested weekly in the same manner as the staff at Van Rensselaer Manor. This is reckless obstruction of a federally mandated inspection and we have referred the matter to CMS,” Gary Holmes, a spokesperson for the state Health Department, said Sept. 30 about the abandoned inspection of Van Rensselaer Manor. Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin has used every chance to turn the health issue at nursing homes during the COVID pandemic into a political issue. "At every turn, VRM staff worked to accommodate the inspection by the state while also following the state directives requiring all visitors to be free of COVID-19 and current in testing," McLaughlin wrote to state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Sept. 30. In July, state health inspectors, acting at the request of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, attempted a surprise examination of Van Rensselaer Manor, when McLaughlin showed up and demanded they be escorted during the inspection. Zucker said visits are supposed to be unannounced and unaccompanied. Read more about this story in the Times Union.