New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker may have been better off staying home on Wednesday. At the newest legislative hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s hospitals, Zucker, who participated as a witness, asserted that New York long term care facilities had plenty of PPE to go around, based on conversations he had with health care workers.
"I can tell you that in those conversations with those physicians and those nurses, they said, ‘We have the PPE that is needed,’ Zucker said. "If there was a problem, they should come back to us and we will make sure it is available.”
That's news to the staff at Manhattan's Mount Sinai West hospital, where nurses found themselves having to resort to wearing trash bags to protect themselves while treating coronavirus patients. Nurse Diana Torres had a colorful response for Zucker, adding that it's time for him to resign.
“He’s f—king clueless,” Mount Sinani West nurse Diana Torres said of Zucker. “That’s so disrespectful. The state health commissioner should resign.”— Bernadette Hogan (@bern_hogan) August 12, 2020
“Nurses were wearing trash bags,” Torres railed. “If there was no shortage, why were we told to ration PPE? It’s insulting.” https://t.co/LebXjgQsbX
Zucker was also reluctant to talk about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's nursing home mandate that forced facilities to accept COVID patients, dismissing it as old news. But to most others, that dangerous policy had a direct impact on the alarming number of fatalities.
Meanwhile, grieving family members and lawmakers are asking for an independent investigation into how COVID-19 affected nursing homes, and the role the governor's mandate played in it.