We hope and pray that our clients and their loved ones are healthy, well, and coping during this difficult and challenging time. This email will serve as an update on the current status of the courts in New York State and what we expect going forward.
The impact of the coronavirus on how law firms do business has been profound, especially here in New York where courts have been closed with the exception of essential and emergency matters. As such, no new cases can be instituted as courts cannot process payments for index numbers. Also, all settlement conferences and discovery conferences cannot be held in the courthouses. Some counties and boroughs have had online conferences with Skype and Zoom, but that has been very limited. We are anxiously awaiting the relaxation of Gov. Cuomo’s directives and hope the courts can reopen by mid-May. Of course, we have no control over that potential date.
Despite the closures, we have continued to do our best to update your cases, receive all medical records, and respond to demands made by defense attorneys and insurance companies.
In addition, we have received many calls about the horrific effects that COVID-19 has had on nursing homes and the elderly population. Families are desperate for answers about their loved ones and tell us that nursing homes are stonewalling and refusing to tell them anything. The crisis highlights the desperate state of nursing homes in the New York region, which have become a center of the coronavirus outbreak with nearly 2,500 deaths in New York alone (up more than 1,000 in the last week). It also illustrates what relatives of residents have said was a deeply troubling lack of information about what is going on inside the homes. Since the first outbreak at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, in late February, which killed at least 37 people, nursing homes have proved grimly efficient places for the coronavirus, bringing overworked caregivers in constant contact with frail, older residents. The work can readily spread disease: when changing a diaper or helping someone to bed, there is no such thing as social distancing.
Factors repeat with deadly regularity: not enough staff, not enough protective equipment, and not enough testing, which would enable homes to isolate infected people.
New York State has no minimum staffing requirement for nursing homes, which often means that overstretched workers move from one vulnerable resident to the next, with no time to change into fresh masks and surgical gowns, even if the homes had them.
In New York and New Jersey, funeral directors have been unable to keep up with the death toll at one nursing home after another. In Suffolk County, on Long Island, nearly half of all deaths are from the coronavirus-involved nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Families are caught in a vacuum of information, barred from visiting, and nursing homes have a financial incentive to provide only the most benign view of what is happening behind their closed doors. New York State has promised a detailed report on nursing home deaths but has not released one yet.
The Law Firm of Steven Fried, PC is available to answer all your questions about nursing homes and potential cases stemming from negligent care at these institutions. If you have a pending case, feel free to email us or contact us by phone so we can give you an update. Rest assured, we are on top of your cases and are anxious to get back to business as soon as possible. Stay healthy and stay safe!!