Nursing home advocate blames NY Gov. Cuomo for not providing staff with a plan
Danielle Lieblein, a New York nursing home nutrition director, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo ‘needs to get his facts together and present us with some real data at this point because none of it is making any sense.’
A longtime New York nursing home worker told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave nursing home staff “no plan” to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and blasted him for “never” taking responsibility “for anything.”
Danielle Pagoulatos-Lieblein, a nursing home nutrition director with 30 years of experience in the industry, made the comments one day after Cuomo held a press conference where the embattled Democratic New York governor admitted that he should have moved sooner to release relevant data related to COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes amid mounting criticism of his administration’s handling of the scandal.
In his first press conference since reports surfaced that his office underreported or withheld critical information on nursing home deaths during the pandemic, Cuomo said all relevant information was “fully, publicly and accurately reported.” When asked if he felt the need to apologize, the New York governor said his team’s failure to publicly address concerns created a “void” that allowed the spread of “conspiracy theories.”
“We made a mistake in creating the void,” Cuomo said. “We made a mistake in creating the void when we didn’t provide information, it allowed press people, cynics, politicians to fill a void.”
During the news conference Cuomo also said, “COVID did not get into the nursing homes by people coming from hospitals, COVID got into the nursing homes by staff walking into the nursing homes.”
“He seems to want to blame everybody all the time and never take responsibility for anything that he has done,” Lieblein told host Steve Doocy.
She went on to say that Cuomo made “several” mistakes during the pandemic regarding nursing home residents and “he continues to” do so.
CUOMO AIDE TELLS NY DEMOCRATS ADMINISTRATION HID NURSING HOME DATA TO KEEP IT FROM TRUMP DOJ: REPORT
Cuomo has faced calls to resign since the Associated Press reported his administration had significantly underreported the number of recovering COVID-19 patients who were sent back to nursing homes to recover under a controversial order he implemented last March. The Associated Press found that nearly 15,000 long-term care patients died of COVID-19 at nursing homes, up from the roughly 8,500 deaths previously disclosed.
Criticism intensified after Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa admitted during a private call that the administration withheld data requested by New York State legislatures because they worried it could be “used against us” by the Justice Department under then-President Donald Trump.
“I’m a big advocate for allowing people to come back to the nursing home,” Lieblein said on Tuesday. “I do believe that these people should be where we know them, and love them and care for them, however, the governor did not need to send them back so quickly because we were not in the nursing homes ready with the PPE (personal protective equipment) and we had no idea what we were going to do with everybody.”
“So he really should have just said, ‘Put them where they needed to be,’ maybe the Javits Center,” she continued, referring to the convention center that was used to treat New York COVID-19 patients during the height of the pandemic as a way to free up space in the city’s crowded hospitals.
She went on to say that Cuomo should have “then said to the nursing homes, ‘OK this is what we’re going to do, here’s our plan.’”
“He gave us no plan,” Lieblein stressed. “He just brought them back to us and we didn’t have PPE, literally [we were] walking through the nursing home wearing garbage bags on us and taking them off.”
“We didn’t have enough to take care of people,” she continued. “So we’re supposed to go from room to room and change our PPE, we couldn’t do that so I blame the governor for that.”
Lieblein also stressed that Cuomo needs to get “his facts together and present us with some real data at this point because none of it is making any sense to the people who actually work in the nursing home to the people who lost their loved ones and pretty much the whole community.”
She said she would “love” to see Cuomo resign, “but, if that’s not going to happen, I would love to see him actually reach out to somebody in the nursing homes and figure out a plan to make this better at this point because, today, people are dying.”
“People are not only dying of COVID now, they’re dying of isolation, depression, weight loss, falls. It is heartbreaking,” Lieblein continued.
“To walk through the nursing home every single day and see what’s going on is absolutely… heartbreaking and the governor needs to come and see what’s going on.”
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A spokesperson for Cuomo did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.
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