Kaiser Health News (July 13)
States across the country are beginning to roll back heart-wrenching policies instituted when the coronavirus pandemic began and allow in-person visits at nursing homes and assisted living centers, offering relief to frustrated families. For the most part, visitors are required to stay outside and meet relatives in gardens or on patios where they stay at least 6 feet apart, supervised by a staff member. Appointments are scheduled in advance and masks are mandated. Only one or two visitors are permitted at a time.
Verma Touts Steps CMS Is Taking To Protect Nursing Homes Against Pandemic.
In an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star (7/12), CMS Administrator Seema Verma explains that CMS “has taken a series of aggressive actions over the past several months to protect nursing home residents against the spread of this new coronavirus.” Verma explains that starting “in May, CMS required nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to inform residents, their families, and their representatives within 12 hours of when a single COVID-19 case is reported, or when three or more residents or staffers develop respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other.” The agency “recently provided state and local officials with recommendations on phased re-openings of nursing homes in their areas, including when and under what circumstances to allow visitors.” Verma adds that, “as nursing homes meet certain criteria, they may be in a position to allow visitors again.”
Georgia Lagging To Conduct CMS-Directed Nursing Home Inspections During Pandemic.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (7/11) reported “Georgia is one of the slowest to respond to the directive from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services” to carry out “targeted infection-control inspections of every [long-term care and nursing] facility by July 31.” In fact, “the latest CMS data show that as of July 3, Georgia had completed 41 percent of the on-site inspections, even as more than 1,300 residents of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19.” Just two states are reported to have “a lower completion rate” and “many states have already completed all infection-control inspections, with the national average at 88 percent.”
Wall Street Journal (July 11)
Current surge that has mostly infected the young now shows signs of reaching more-vulnerable elderly.
Controversy Continues Following New York Governor’s Report Detailing Nursing Home Deaths In State.
ProPublica (7/10, Sapien, Sexton) reported, “In defense of a controversial policy to send COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals into nursing homes, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health department issued a report...saying that the directive did not significantly contribute to the nearly 6,500 deaths that have occurred to date in homes across the state.” At a news conference, “Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, said...that sickened staff members were the chief source of infection for residents at the state’s more than 600 nursing homes.” Following “its release, the report has come under withering criticism, from some nursing home executives, medical experts, scientists, and elected officials in both New York and Washington” who “have challenged the report’s conclusions as dubious speculation and accused Cuomo and Zucker of issuing a cynical document meant to insulate themselves from blame.”
July 20 Walkout Planned By Nursing Home Workers At Six Metro Detroit Sites.
The Detroit News (7/10, Mauger) reported, “Frustrated with working conditions, nursing home employees at six facilities in Metro Detroit are planning a brief strike during the COVID-19 pandemic on July 20.” On Friday, “Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Michigan announced...the strike will last one hour at five of the facilities and two hours at the other.” This “demonstration, which is part of a national walkout called ‘Strike for Black Lives,’ comes as nursing homes have been linked to 34% of the COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.” The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as of Thursday, “tracked 2,010 COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents and 21 deaths among staff.”
Michigan Care Facilities Tell Verma They Still Lack PPE, Testing Capacity As They Face Possibility Of COVID-19 Resurgence.
The Detroit News (7/9, Bouffard) reports, “Michigan care facilities still struggle with a lack of personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing capacity as they prepare for a possible resurgence of the virus, health leaders said during a Thursday discussion with” CMS Administrator Seema Verma. The article says Verma hosted the online event. She “wanted to hear about the experiences of Metro Detroit health care providers” when “the region was a national hot spot early in the pandemic.” Verma said, “I realize that what we learn from the front lines is critical. ... We really wanted to come and talk to you because Michigan has been dealing with this. Michigan was hit really hard and hopefully that remains behind you, and we wanted to focus today’s discussions on best practices, what has worked.”
LA City Attorney Accuses Nursing Home Of Dumping Long-Term Residents For Patients With COVID-19 With Higher Reimbursements.
The Los Angeles Times (7/9, Dolan) reports a Los Angeles city attorney argues that “the Lakeview Terrace skilled nursing facility in Los Angeles has been illegally ‘dumping’ old and disabled residents onto the street and into homes that are not equipped to care for them.” This “‘sustained’ and ‘intentional’ misconduct by Lakeview Terrace administrators comes at a time when nursing homes have an incentive to dump long-term residents, for whom they are paid little, to make room for COVID-19 patients, for whom they are paid much more... [an attorney] wrote in the lawsuit.” He added, “This creates an incentive for nursing homes to seek out residents with higher rates of reimbursement and ‘churn’ residents by any means possible.”
The AP (7/9) also reports.
Maryland Officials Fine Three Nursing Homes For Violating Coronavirus Testing Requirements.
The Baltimore Sun (7/9, Campbell) reports, “Maryland health officials have fined three nursing homes for violations of the state’s rules requiring universal coronavirus testing of residents and staff.” Maryland “issued a $10,000 fine to the Stadium Place Nursing and Rehab Center in Baltimore’s Waverly neighborhood; a $4,000 fine to the Glen Burnie Health and Rehabilitation Center; and a $4,000 fine to the Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Rockville, according to letters sent to each facility.” The letters “to administrators of the three facilities followed inspections last month and were obtained this week by The Baltimore Sun through a Maryland Public Information Act request.”
Top House GOP Member Accuses New York Governor Of Producing Faulty Report On Nursing Homes.
The Washington Examiner (7/9, Ferrechio) reports that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise “sent a scathing letter to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), accusing him of producing a faulty report that deflected blame from his administration for thousands of coronavirus nursing home deaths.” The Cuomo administration “issued a report this week claiming the decision to send more than 6,300 people with the coronavirus into nursing homes was not to blame for more than 6,400 deaths in those facilities.” Scalise “wrote to Cuomo on Thursday in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner: ‘In addition to being dubious on its face, this conclusion was reached through a flawed methodology.’”
PBS Newshour (July 9)
Of the nation’s roughly 130,000 coronavirus deaths, more than 40,000 have occurred in nursing homes. But one facility in Maryland has had zero COVID-19 cases so far -- despite serving one of the most at-risk populations. Rev. Derrick DeWitt, director of the Maryland Baptist Aged Home, joins Amna Nawaz to discuss his facility’s proactive approach, systemic racism and a lack of federal leadership.
Cleveland.com (July 8)
At least 2,101 patients of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died with coronavirus, accounting for nearly 3-in-4 COVID-19 deaths in Ohio, according to updated information released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Health.
The Detroit News (July 8)
Michigan nursing home workers faced ‘heartbreaking’ reality as COVID-19 hit, inspection records reveal
As the pandemic slammed Michigan, workers inside some of the state's hardest-hit nursing homes rationed protective gear, went without COVID-19 tests and struggled to care for seniors who carried a deadly virus.
Providence Journal (July 8)
Rhode Island nursing home leaders say COVID-19, Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget proposals and minimum staffing legislation could put many of them out of business.