“The way Cuomo ran this whole show has had a devastating effect to society to people with special needs and people that need help,” said Jeff Monsour, who began working at homes run by the New York Office for People With Developmental Disabilties (OPWDD) more than a decade ago.
“Nobody ever knows if they’re going to end up with a loved one in a nursing home, in an OPWDD home, and they’re going to want that worker to be able to speak up on their behalf,” Monsour continued. “They said there was facilities somewhere. We don’t know any facilities where you separate individuals if they have COVID. They’re basically in the same home if they have COVID or don’t have COVID.”
A spokeswoman for OPWDD pushed back against Monsour’s assertions.
“Mr. Monsour’s comments are completely at odds with the herculean efforts of the nearly 100,000 frontline workers that support people with developmental disabilities in 7,000 group homes across New York State who were following the strict protocols and safety measures that OPWDD issued from the onset of the pandemic,” the spokeswoman told Fox News in a statement. “Without their efforts and strict adherence to the guidance issued by New York, more lives would certainly have been lost within our group homes.”
“It is shocking that Mr. Monsour is seemingly unaware of the strict protocols issued by OPWDD which he not only received formal training on, but are also publicly available on OPWDD’s website,” the spokeswoman continued.
Cuomo’s administration has come under scrutiny for ordering homes for people with developmental disabilities to accept coronavirus patients.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference alongside the National Guard at the Jacob Javits Center that will house a temporary hospital in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Monday, March 23, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
The April 10 directive, which mirrored the Cuomo administration’s controversial order to nursing homes, also told homes for people with developmental disabilities that they could not require hospitalized residents to be tested for coronavirus prior to admission or readmission.
Five hundred fifty-two residents at homes for people with developmental disabilities have died of coronavirus, OPWDD told Fox News.
“These group homes were required to have a process in place to expedite the return of asymptomatic residents from the hospital, who were deemed appropriate for return to their OPWDD certified residence,” an OPWDD spokeswoman told Fox News in a statement earlier this week. “In other words, OPWDD providers could accept individuals only if they could safely accommodate them in the group home.”
Monsour told Fox News he is currently on leave but was working at Stony Creek home in Saratoga County, New York, as of late February. Monsour said he was put on leave as a form of retaliation and said he had complained about coronavirus conditions in OPWDD centers as early as March 2020.
“Why is OPWDD sending vulnerable medically frail individuals from OPWDD group homes and non-for profit agencies to day programs during the [COVID-19] outbreak?” Monsour asked OPWDD Theodore Kastner according to a March 11, 2020, email provided to Fox News by Monsour.
Monsour told Fox News that at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic he brought gloves from his facility, where residents were more high-functioning, to medically frail group homes, something he said he could have gotten in trouble for.
“We had hardly any PPE,” he said.