Should a health care facility be required to test its employees for COVID-19? For nursing homes that are hit hard by the crisis it’s a big controversy, and the Hurlbut Care Communities, it’s coming to a head.
Some lawmakers claim it’s intentionally failing to perform COVID-19 tests on staff at Avon Nursing and Rehabilitation Home. They say at least 13 residents there have tested positive and two have died. In addition, they say some staff have tested positive. Livingston County officials offered universal testing to determine the extent of the outbreak. But, they say Hurlbut has not only failed to follow through, it has threatened to fire employees who talk about conditions inside the facility.
In a letter to the State Attorney General, Assemblyman Marjorie Byrnes and Senator Patrick Gallivan said, “Hurlbut’s lack of full cooperation during this health crisis and employee gag order demonstrate an utter lack of concern for the health and well-being of everyone in this facility. Hurlbut’s conduct endangers our entire community.”
Earlier in April, the Monroe County Health Commissioner asked the state to investigate Hurlbut, claiming the company is underreporting COVID-19 deaths at its nursing home in Brighton. The company is also under pressure after dozens of residents and staff at its facility in Hornell tested positive. More than 12 residents there have died. Hurlbut has denied any wrongdoing.
As for the fight over universal testing at the Avon Nursing Home, Hurlbut says it does offer tests to workers who ask for them, or show symptoms of COVID-19. In a statement, it said “Those who try to mandate universal testing are politicizing the worst healthcare crisis that our country has faced in more than a century. They should do better. Politics has no place in this pandemic.”
Assemblywoman Byrnes and Senator Patrick Gallivan have asked the state health department and the attorney general to intervene.