Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary Rachel Levine moved her 95-year-old mother from a nursing home during the coronavirus pandemic, despite her department’s guidance instructing nursing homes to readmit “stable” patients who contracted the coronavirus — a move critics say led to the stark reality of most virus deaths in the state stemming from those facilities.
“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the Covid-19 outbreak,” Levine, the nation’s first openly transgender public health secretary, explained. “My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.”
“Many in Harrisburg wondered what kind of message it sends — when a close relative of the person tasked with overseeing those types of facilities doesn’t choose to stay in one,” ABC27 reported.
Levine, the state’s health secretary, has been under tremendous fire over the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s initial guidance, instructing nursing care facilities to readmit patients who were treated for the coronavirus and in “stable” condition, attributing the decision to leaving hospital beds open for an influx of virus patients.
The guidance stated:
Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable to alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings. This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.
Nursing homes in the state have been ravaged by the virus, with over two-thirds of the state’s overall coronavirus deaths stemming from individuals at nursing homes or personal care facilities.
Despite issuing such a directive, Levine removed her own mother from a personal care home during the pandemic. Nearly 70 percent of the state’s coronavirus fatalities, 2,611 of 3,806, have stemmed from such facilities, the state’s health department data shows.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has opened criminal investigations into some of the nursing homes and will hold “nursing facilities and caretakers criminally accountable if they fail to properly provide care to our loved ones.”
Levine has seen nothing but support from Gov Tom Wolf (D), who said she is doing a “phenomenal job.”