Coverage about COVID-19 in Facilities

June 24, 2020

Kentucky Nursing Home Officially Coronavirus-Free After Facility Saw Around 80 Cases, Six Deaths.

USA Today (6/24, Loosemore) reports that within days, 27 of the residents at Louisville East Post Acute, a nursing home in Kentucky, “tested positive for the coronavirus” out of 170 residents. For weeks, workers “at Louisville East rarely took breaks as they fought to keep their patients from” dying. Over “50 residents and nearly 30 staff members have tested positive at Louisville East, including six residents who’ve died.” However, “as of this month, every patient and employee has tested negative.” It is “a scenario that’s likely played out in nursing homes across the country, where the virus has preyed on elderly residents who need the highest level of care.”


New York Republican Lawmaker Calls For Independent Investigation Into COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths, Says Governor’s Actions Made “Absolutely No Sense.”

Fox News (6/23, Kaplan) reports, “New York Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is calling for an independent investigation into COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state telling ‘Fox & Friends’ on Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s actions made ‘absolutely no sense.’” Meanwhile, Governor “Cuomo has insisted that New York’s original nursing home policy was in line with a March 13 directive from the Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that went out to all states on how to control nursing homes.”

        The New York Post (6/23, Hogan) also reports.


Insufficient Oversight, Few Penalties Driving Coronavirus’ Spread In California Nursing Homes, Experts And Advocates Say.

The San Francisco Chronicle (6/23, Ravani) reports “nursing home deaths account for more than 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in California, and are on the rise even though it’s clear that isolation, proper equipment and frequent testing slow the spread of the coronavirus.” At California nursing homes, “little oversight and few penalties by state and county health departments – and a lack of testing and supplies – are driving the spread of the virus, say eldercare experts and advocates for residents.” Furthermore, it is “nearly impossible for families or the public to get information directly from nursing homes.”


Seniors In California Reportedly Hit Hard During Coronavirus Pandemic.

In her “California Today” blog for the New York Times (6/23), Jill Cowan writes about “a troubling trend identified by watchdogs, elder-care lawyers and social workers, in which nursing homes have been pushing out old and disabled residents to make way for more lucrative Covid-19 patients.” During the coronavirus “pandemic, older Californians have been hard hit. Nursing homes have been sites of outbreaks, and the economic downturn in the wake of lockdowns is likely to continue to chip away at funding for services for seniors.”


Michigan Governor Reportedly Will Not Cooperate With Congressional Republicans’ Investigation On Coronavirus In Nursing Homes.

The Detroit News (6/22, Burke) reports Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) “has declined a request by congressional Republicans to turn over records and brief committee staffers on the state’s handling of the novel coronavirus in Michigan’s nursing homes.” Whitmer indicated to Republicans on a House coronavirus committee “that she wouldn’t cooperate with their inquiry, saying the panel’s investigatory authority does not lie with individual members and the committee’s jurisdiction cannot be ‘stretched’ to include the health and safety of a state and its residents.”


New York Governor Cuomo Denies His Office Was To Blame For Deaths Of Nursing Home Residents In State.

The Hill (6/22, Budryk) reports, “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday denied his office was at fault for the coronavirus deaths of more than 6,000 nursing home residents in the state, calling such accusations a ‘political charade.’” Cuomo said “critics of his handling of the issue were attempting to draw attention away from the federal response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”


Singletary: Nursing Homes Cannot Seize Economic Stimulus Payments.

In her Washington Post (6/22) column, Michelle Singletary highlights a recent IRS advisory, which clarifies “that the economic impact payments distributed as part of the latest stimulus belong to recipients, not a nursing home or assisted-living facility.” The advisory followed reports of “situations where nursing homes and other elderly care organizations have seized the payments, arguing that because the residents are receiving Medicaid, the facilities are entitled to the money.” IRS spokesman Eric Smith said, “The law is clear, and we want you to know that. ... If you’re in a nursing home or other care facility, your economic impact payment belongs to you, not the home.”


West Virginia Governor Allowing Some Nursing Homes To Reopen.

NPR (6/22, Silva) reports that under West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s (R) reopening plan, nursing “homes can only reopen if they have had no cases of the coronavirus for 14 consecutive days.” While West Virginia “provides guidance for reopening, individual facilities have broad leeway to set their own restrictions on everything from how many visitors to allow, to how long they can spend on site.” Although “the reopening of nursing homes has been welcomed by many residents and their families in West Virginia, there remains concern over whether it is still too soon – particularly at a time when the number of cases in the state has been trending up.”


Some Nursing Homes Reportedly Evicting Elderly, Disabled Residents.

The New York Times (6/21, Silver-Greenberg, Harris) reports, “More than any other institution in America, nursing homes have come to symbolize the deadly destruction of the coronavirus crisis,” as “over “51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died, representing more than 40 percent of the total death toll in the United States.” The New York Times says that some facilities “are kicking out old and disabled residents – among the people most susceptible to the coronavirus – and shunting them into homeless shelters, rundown motels and other unsafe facilities, according to 22 watchdogs in 16 states, as well as dozens of elder-care lawyers, social workers and former nursing home executives.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid last fall “changed the formula for reimbursing nursing homes, making it more profitable to take in sicker patients for a short period of time,” and [COVID-19] patients can bring in at least $600 more a day in Medicare dollars than people with relatively mild health issues, according to nursing home executives and state officials.”


Some Concerned Crucial Long-Term Care Workers Are Choosing Unemployment Benefits Over Paychecks.

NPR (6/21, Emanuel) reports, “As part of the CARES Act, the federal government added an extra $600 per week to individuals’ unemployment checks,” and “such benefits may be available not only to those who were let go but also to those who quit their jobs due to the virus.” Although “a Federal Reserve report said the expanded benefits provide a critical lifeline to many individuals, there is concern that the additional money is leading crucial workers to stay home.” For example, “nursing homes and long-term care facilities, hard hit by the pandemic, have been struggling with understaffing.”


Profile: Nursing Home Residents Continue To Face Challenges During Pandemic.

The AP (6/21, Irvine) reports on the ongoing challenges for residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic – such as social isolation, feelings of loneliness, and the ever-present risk of contracting the coronavirus. The article profiles several families and how they are attempting to stay in contact during the pandemic despite the social distancing measures placed on nursing homes to protect residents.


Investigators Found Residents Of Pennsylvania Nursing Home Were In “Immediate Jeopardy” In May.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6/21, Hamill) reports that “on May 2, the second of five days that Pennsylvania Department of Health inspectors spent investigating” the Brighton Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, “a Beaver County nursing home with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the state, inspectors found such egregious violations of infection prevention guidelines that they found the violations placed residents in ‘Immediate Jeopardy.’” Inspectors “found more than two dozen violations of infection prevention in six of the 11 units of the nursing a range of employees.” The Post-Gazette adds that “on May 12 federal inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed up at Brighton,” and found “inspectors were still finding problems with employees use of protective equipment, problem with disinfecting medical equipment, and a new finding that Brighton staff were not assessing residents every eight hours for COVID-19 symptoms and signs.”


Brighton Nursing Home Likely Put Residents In “Immediate Jeopardy” During COVID-19 Pandemic, Records Show.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (6/20, Lindstrom) reported, “Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center put a majority of its hundreds of residents in ‘immediate jeopardy’ and potentially exposed healthy residents to covid-19 as recently as early May, records show.” In a different investigation, the “U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a federal investigation into Brighton during a trip to Beaver County on May 29.” Their “findings still are under review by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”


Michigan Declines Nursing Home Association Leader’s Recommendation To Use Empty Facilities To “Avoid Widespread Infection.”

The Detroit News (6/20, Mauger) reported, “Three days after the confirmation of Michigan’s first COVID-19 cases, the state’s nursing home association leader recommended in a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration that empty facilities should be used as quarantine centers to ‘avoid widespread infection.’” However, “state officials declined the suggestion of Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan, and instead set up a system in which infected residents are cared for in isolated areas of nursing homes, separate from residents without the virus.” Michigan “explored several options to address the spread of COVID-19 within long-term care facilities, including the idea of using empty facilities...said Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.”


Latest CMS Coronavirus Nursing Home Data Reportedly Raise Questions About Cases, Death Toll Figures.

Modern Healthcare (6/19, Christ, Subscription Publication) reported that as additional data become available “on nursing homes across the country, the number of COVID-19 cases and suspected cases continues to climb, as the overall death toll figures somehow drop, according to the latest data shared by CMS Thursday.” The newest data “show that there are more than 107,000 confirmed cases, more than 71,000 suspected cases and just shy of 29,500 COVID-19 deaths in Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes,” while the data set released two weeks ago showed “there were more than 95,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, another 58,000 suspected cases and nearly 32,000 deaths – more than 2,000 fewer than before.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma “urged the public to ‘use caution when interpreting data in this early stage.’”


Virginia Governor To Release Names Of Nursing Homes That Have Had Coronavirus Outbreaks.

The AP (6/19, Suderman, Rankin) reported, “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Friday that he will release the names of nursing homes that have had a coronavirus outbreak, a reversal from his previous stance that releasing the information could violate patients’ privacy.” Northam “said he is directing the Virginia Department of Health to release the names on its website,” and also “said the widespread nature of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it less likely that releasing the information will violate someone’s privacy or limit cooperation with a public health investigation.” Moreover, Northam “said his decision was prompted by faulty data released by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about nursing home cases, which the governor said had created confusion.”


Louisiana Toughens Coronavirus Testing Requirements For Nursing Homes.

The AP (6/19, Deslatte) reported, “Louisiana has toughened its coronavirus testing requirements for nursing homes, with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) administration telling the facilities they must regularly test residents and workers for COVID-19 or face financial penalties from the state.” Under the new requirements, “nursing homes will have to complete a first, baseline test of each resident and employee by June 30, or face the risk of restrictions on admitting new patients, civil penalties or withholding of Medicaid payments.” The CDC “has recommended testing every resident and employee at nursing homes and regularly following up with additional testing to keep track of any virus spread.”


Analysis: Maryland Health Regulators Did Not Conduct In-Person Nursing Home Inspections For Over A Month Amid Pandemic.

The Baltimore Sun (6/19, Dance) said, “As the coronavirus tore through Maryland nursing homes in March and April, state health regulators did not conduct any in-person nursing home inspections for more than a month because there wasn’t personal protective equipment available for the investigators to wear.” The Sun added, “Interviews with state health officials and documents provided to The Baltimore Sun through a public records request reveal instead that, at a time when loved ones could not visit nursing home residents, regulators were kept on the sidelines, too.” Some “records obtained by The Sun show nine in-person surveys of Maryland nursing homes were completed as of early May,” four of which found deficiencies. Of those four surveys, three were conducted by CMS.


Colorado Health Department Pushed Effort To Inspect All State Nursing Homes In April, May For Pandemic Preparedness.

The Denver Post (6/19, Murray) reported on the “all-hands on deck effort by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in April and May to inspect all 232 nursing homes in the state for pandemic preparedness.” The Post highlighted the inspection of the Fairacres Manor in Greeley that “was in full-blown coronavirus outbreak mode in late March.” The Post added, “The nursing-home industry pushed back against Colorado’s newly urgent approach to inspections.” Meanwhile, CMS “at the start of June ordered states to perform infection-control inspections at all nursing homes by the end of July – regardless of whether they’d done so already, as Colorado had.”


Bangor Daily News (June 18)

Maine inspectors didn’t visit most nursing homes even as they became virus hot spots

While Maine has seen nursing home residents become infected with and die from the coronavirus at one of the lowest rates in the country, it has lagged most states in performing the in-person inspections of those homes that the federal government has ordered as part of its response to the pandemic. Those in-person inspections can be an important step in identifying whether facilities are taking appropriate precautions and have enough resources to protect their staff and residents from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus that has caused deadly outbreaks in nursing homes across Maine and the rest of the country.


Tampa Bay Times (June 16)

Florida’s crash testing program offers snapshot of COVID-19’s deadly toll in long-term care

Testing has provided a window into the extent to which the virus has spread throughout the state’s 3,800 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers.


NPR (June 15)

Texas Calls in a Strike Force to Try to Slow Coronavirus Spread in Nursing Homes

Some of the worst coronavirus outbreaks have occurred at long-term care facilities that now account for more than one-third of all COVID-19 deaths in America. Some states have taken aggressive actions to slow the spread of the virus among residents and workers in nursing homes. Texas formed a strike force to assess problems at its 1,222 nursing homes.


Denver Post (June 15)

Coronavirus outbreaks at Colorado nursing homes spurred emergency push to inspect all of them

Infection-control citations put focus on use of PPE, sanitation practices.

Last modified on 06/26/2020

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