Governor Cuomo announced that after June 24, 2021, the COVID-19 State of Emergency would be coming to an end, and along with it, a plethora of Emergency Orders issued since March, 2020.
Previously, on April 6, 2021, Chapter 96 of the Laws of 2021 was also ended. It had temporary offered health care facilities and providers immunity from liability as part of the COVID-19 Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (Public Health Law §§ 3080-82). Now, defendants in cases involving nursing homes and medical malpractice cases are now prevented from availing themselves of immunity that occur after April 6, 2021.
The clean repeal in April, 2021, of the Emergency Or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, that had largely immunized health care providers from criminal and civil liability since since April, 2021, has not been retroactively repealed. Therefore, events from April, 2020-April 2021 are expected to remain ineligible for suit.
However, without these statutory protections or state of emergency declaration going forward, nursing homes and medical providers are no longer expected to be able to point to the challenges COVID-19 continues to present as an excuse for failing to meet acceptable quality of care standards. It appears it will be very difficult going forward to point to COVID-19 and its impact on operations and services as an acceptable explanation for shortcomings in the care of patients or residents. Instead, as COVID-19 continues to be a reality for all, healthcare providers are required now to know about the challenges, have implemented changes to manage the new environment, and be successfully taking those challenges into account when delivering care.
"To this day still families are prevented from holding accountable nursing homes, where their loved ones have died and where they believe that there have been instances not only of misconduct, but of regular negligence."