Cuomo’s Not Only Going to Destroy My Workplace, He’ll Destroy the Entire Region.

I work in a nursing home for a healthcare company in danger of closing if we don’t receive state aid.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York speaks during a March press conference on the COVID-19 outbreak. AFP via Getty Images

Imagine, if you will, being eighty eight years old living in a nursing home during a pandemic that prevents you from seeing your loved ones. A nursing home in one of the poorest, most rural counties in all of New York State. Imagine then, that the facility gets shut down, and the nursing homes nearby — aside from being vastly inferior to the one you’re currently living in — are in just as precarious a financial situation as the one you’re currently living in. The home can’t close down officially, of course, until they’ve found you, and all the other residents another home working in coordination with your families. But with everyone else in the surrounding area on the brink of financial collapse as well if the collapse hasn’t happened already, where are you going to go? Will you still be close to family? Will you still receive quality care?

This is the situation that could potentially be facing the residents in the nursing home where I work if Andrew Cuomo and the New York State government don’t provide some relief for the long term care facilities throughout the state.

My workplace is owned and operated by one of the largest employers in my county, employing over a thousand people. They have been a part of the area since the 1800s, now with two nursing homes, an assisted living facility, an independent senior living facility, multiple houses for disabled and cognitively impaired members of our communities, and expanding behavioral health and counseling services as well. As a healthcare company with a primary focus on the aging population and long term care facilities, Medicare and Medicaid not only compensate the company for the residents who use their services to afford to stay there, that’s also how employees are paid.

Due to Covid-19 all non-emergency surgeries have stopped and our rehabilitation operations that bring in most of our money have slowed significantly. Combine that with the fact that the company of course also had to buy a stockpile of PPE to protect employees and residents, and now with the new mandate that all nursing home staff must be tested twice a week potentially costing the company 60 thousand dollars a week, it should come as no surprise that things are beginning to look grim. So grim, in fact, that the CEO has taken to the papers to push the public to help him pressure the Governor for the aid he’s been fighting for since before this crisis even began.

Of course, Andrew Cuomo has failed to provide any relief that would help nursing homes comply with his mandates, and meet the moment to protect their residents and employees. Instead, he has cut the state budget by 10 billion dollars while giving himself a raise.

My coworkers and my residents are my second family. I genuinely have no idea how I would get through this without them. Myself and my coworkers take pride in the fact that we work for what is consistently ranked one of the very best nursing homes in all of Northern New York. While we did have one resident test positive, she has since recovered and not a single other resident or employee in the days or weeks that followed tested positive. We are doing everything we can, pouring from empty cups in order to provide the best care and be there for our residents at a time when their family can’t.

Make no mistake, if our company closes down and these residents were sent away from their home at a time when the pain of missing their families and friends is already getting to be too much to bear, it will kill the majority of them. Broken hearts will kill them before the virus does. Aside from that, losing the biggest employer in the entire county is going to inflict lasting damage on a region that is already struggling. Damage that we truly may never recover from.

Not only is Cuomo going to destroy my workplace if he fails to provide relief, he’ll destroy the entire region. Our already fragile healthcare system that’s been the backbone of our community is already on the verge of crumbling, with local hospitals laying off 400 employees. If we lose the company I work for on top of it, the domino affect will impact not only those hospitals, but the other healthcare companies who have nurses and physical therapists contracted out to our independent and assisted living facilities. When over one thousand people in a rural area like ours lose their jobs, everything from the food service industry to the housing market will be affected in ways that could last years.

For me, the anger I feel towards Andrew Cuomo has become personal. It’s been personal since he mandated a fifteen dollar minimum wage while at the same time slashing the medicare and medicaid budget for our facility by one million dollars. Since he first took office, the longstanding sentiment among people in northern New York has been that he doesn’t care about or this region. Now more than ever, I understand where it comes from.

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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