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Gov. Hochul Holds Private Meeting With Families Of Loved Ones Who Died Of COVID In Nursing Homes, Apologizes For Tragedy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul is apologizing to families who lost loved ones, after her predecessor ordered nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday, CBS2's Jessica Moore spoke with a woman who was in that private meeting with the governor about what happened and asked Hochul how she plans to make things right.

READ MOREUnderstaffing At Nursing Homes Leaves Residents Vulnerable Amid Pandemic, Now Vaccine Mandate Could Make It Worse

Nothing made Elba Pabey happier than singing, gardening, and family.

Even as a resident at Isabella Geriatric Center in Washington Heights, her kindness was contagious.

"She loved to give hugs. She would go and give hugs to all her friends there at the facility," Haydee Pabey said.

In April 2020, following former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's policy to move COVID-positive patients into nursing homes, NYPD Det. Haydee Pabey got the call that her otherwise healthy 72-year-old mother was on her death bed with the disease.

"There was that neglect there that just led to the death and they just told us she was fine the day before, because that's probably the answer they are giving everybody," Haydee Pabey said.

She spent months unsuccessfully asking Cuomo's office for answers, and was among the families who met with Gov. Hochul on Tuesday.

"I know the governor felt that pain that the families went through. Like I saw it in her face. She cares and I'm confident that she'll be able to provide answers for us," Haydee Pabey said.

FLASHBACK: Grieving Families Mark 1 Year Since Gov. Cuomo Issued Executive Order Mandating Nursing Homes Accept COVID Patients

Moore spoke to Hochul, saying, "The families made a list of demands yesterday. They thanked you for apologizing but also said, 'We'd like a victim's compensation fund, a memorial, more transparency. Do you plan to honor those requests?"

"We actually opened the lines of communication where there were none, and that was what they recognize as progress," Hochul said. "There will be an opportunity to honor their family members. They talked about the victim's compensation fund with my staff and, again, this is something that has to be worked through with the Legislature, but they know we're giving them a hearing, but also I already directed my staff this is not a one-off. I hold myself accountable."

Haydee Pabey said for the first time in months she has hope that her mother's death will be more than a tragic statistic.

An estimated 15,000 New York nursing home residents died of COVID following Gov. Cuomo's mandate in March of 2020. Cuomo said he was following CDC guidelines at the time when he ordered nursing homes to take in COVID-positive patients.

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