Another PA lawmaker is calling for the resignation of health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine
A Republican lawmaker in the Lebanese county is adding his voice to calls for the immediate resignation or removal of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine.
Rep Russ Diamond said Levine has to go. He cited “the horrific findings of the department’s COVID-19 policy” regarding the number of cases and deaths that have occurred in nursing homes and other facilities under the department’s oversight. More than two-thirds of coronavirus deaths in the state have occurred in long-term care facilities.
Diamond filed a resolution calling for Levine’s ouster or for Governor Tom Wolf to call for the resignation of the health secretary.
Last week, been Senator Doug Mastriano, of R-Franklin County, called for Levine’s resignation, claiming to have committed the equivalent of political negligence in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its spread through nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Diamond said on Tuesday that the scale of the pandemic toll on nursing homes and long-term care facilities didn’t become apparent to the public until House Speaker Mike Turzai, of R-Allegheny County, called for the release of more details on the number of deaths that have occurred within these facilities. To date, he claimed that only part of the requested information was provided and this did not happen until a month after the request.
“Dr. Levine’s resistance to data release and his non-cooperation with peers, in this case an equal arm of government, would never be considered acceptable business management practices in the private sector, ”Diamond said in a news release. “When lives were in danger in Pennsylvania, Levine did not respond sufficiently to the call to public service and his duty to implement appropriate control measures to limit the spread of the disease in order to protect all Pennsylvanians. What makes matters worse. is that we are talking about the most vulnerable among us “.
When questioned at a press conference on Tuesday, Levine said she hadn’t had a specific reaction to Diamond’s request for his removal.
“I remain committed to protecting Pennsylvania residents,” Levine said.
To date, state data shows that nursing home and personal care home residents account for 13,813 cases of COVID-19 and 2,191 cases among employees, for a total of 16,003 cases in 557 separate facilities in 44 counties.
Out of 4,624 COVID-19 deaths that occurred in Pennsylvania, 3,145 involved residents of nursing or personal care facilities.
Diamond’s request for Levine’s removal comes the same day as the Department of Health data released on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.
In a statement on the release of the data, Levine said, “COVID-19 is a particularly challenging situation for these facilities as they care for residents with serious medical conditions. We will continue to work to ensure the safety and well-being of residents through the ‘education, resources and testing. “
The data provides the number of cases, the number of employee cases, and the number of deaths that occurred at each facility. For facilities with fewer than five in one of these data points, the information is obscured.
Last week, Governor Tom Wolf defended his health secretary, saying, “My assessment of Dr. Levine is that she is doing a phenomenal job and I think we need to be careful about blaming the messenger for the message.”
Diamond said early U.S. reports of a report on the COVID-19 outbreak from the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., A week before Wolf’s March 6 disaster emergency declaration, should have been instructive for Levine.
“Instead of heeding that clear warning, Dr. Levine instituted Department of Health policies that stopped routine inspections and instructed nursing facilities to admit and re-admit patients who tested positive for COVID-19,” Diamond said. . “For the vulnerable Pennsylvanians residing in those facilities, it’s as if they were forced to live inside a time bomb.”
She added that she found it disturbing to learn last week that at some point during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Levine removed her mother from a central Pennsylvania personal care home and took her to a premium hotel.
“For these and other reasons, I presented Resolution of Chamber 879. I ask my colleagues for their full support, “said Diamond.” Dr. Levine serves Governor Tom Wolf’s pleasure and I urge him to respond to the pain of thousands of Pennsylvanians and to widespread public demands for competence and transparency, immediately remove the Levine from the post of Pennsylvania Secretary of Health or ask for your resignation. “
Jan Murphy can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.
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