Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s mother moved out of a personal care home with the health secretary’s help, after Levine ordered all nursing homes and long-term facilities in the state to accept coronavirus patients from hospitals.
Levine admitted Tuesday to moving the 95-year-old Pennsylvania resident out of her personal care home, which is similar to an assisted living facility although technically distinct.
“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Levine said. The health secretary’s admission came after local station ABC27 found out about the move.
“My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions,” said Levine, who in 2015 became the first transgender cabinet member in Pennsylvania’s state government.
Levine had previously cited the mother’s situation at a long-term care facility while talking about state regulations of those types of facilities.
“We are seeing community spread of this virus in most areas of Pennsylvania. And we need to make sure that our loved ones in nursing homes stay safe. And that is why actually I am not able to visit my mother, either,” Levine said on March 29.
That was 11 days after the health secretary ordered nursing homes and other long-term facilities to continue admitting new patients and re-admitting current patients from the hospital, despite concerns about the elderly population’s vulnerability to the virus.
“This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus,” the department acknowledged while explaining the order.
Levine is facing calls to resign over the department’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our secretary of health, Dr. Levine, decided that it would be good to allow COVID-positive patients to be returned to elder-care facilities. And as a result of that, it broke out like fire,” Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano said Monday at a rally calling for Levine’s resignation.
The state is facing a class-action lawsuit, filed April 28, that claims the department of health ceased inspecting long-term care facilities now plagued by the virus.
Cuomo on Sunday reversed a March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients. Under the new order, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are allowed to wait for patients to test negative for the virus before admitting them.
The governor acknowledged that nursing homes have become “ground zero” for the virus.