Renewed Concerns Arise About Nursing Homes Amid Pandemic.
Manuel Bojorquez of the CBS Evening News (8/6, story 3, 0:45, Brennan) reported on “renewed concern over the nation’s nursing homes. Officials say 19 people have died so far at” one “nursing home in Missouri City, Texas near Houston” from the coronavirus.
CMS Should Improve Oversight Of Nursing Homes’ Compliance With Daily Staffing Requirements, HHS-OIG Says.
Bloomberg Law (8/6, Pugh, Subscription Publication) reports CMS “should improve its oversight of nursing homes’ compliance with daily staffing requirements,” Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General “said after it found hundreds of facilities didn’t meet mandatory levels of manpower for several weeks in 2018.” The HHS-OIG stated, “This raises concerns that some nursing homes may not have fully met their residents’ needs in 2018.” Although the probe started before the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said the “pandemic reinforces the importance of adequate staffing for nursing homes, as inadequate staffing can make it more difficult for nursing homes to respond to infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19.”
Washington Governor Announces Guidelines For How Visitors Can Return To Long-Term Care Centers.
The AP (8/6, Ho) reports, “Calling it a ‘big step forward,’” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) “on Thursday announced how visitors may return to nursing homes and other long term care operations – six months after the country’s first known coronavirus outbreak devastated a Kirkland facility.” Washington “is issuing a four-phase guideline on visitation that encourages outdoor meetings and correlates with the governor’s four-phase county reopening plan.” Beginning “Aug. 12, individual nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes may apply to the state for approval to allow visitors.”
Texas Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care Facilities Allowing Visitors For First Time In Almost Five Months.
The Texas Tribune (8/6, Champagne, Platoff) reports that “for the first time in nearly five months, visitors will be allowed in Texas nursing homes on a limited basis, state health officials announced Thursday evening, reversing a policy intended to keep the state’s most vulnerable populations safe from a pandemic that has proved especially deadly for older people.” At the state’s “long-term care facilities, some indoor visits will be permitted, provided there are plexiglass barriers, there are no active cases of the novel coronavirus among residents and there are no confirmed cases among staff in the last two weeks.” Still, “physical contact between residents and visitors will not be permitted, state officials said.”
The Dallas Morning News (8/6, Jones) reports that “at nursing homes, the staff must also be receiving weekly coronavirus tests to reopen.” The new requirements mandate “all visits at nursing homes occur outdoors. Visits at other long-term care facilities, such as assisted-living facilities, can happen indoors if a plexiglass safety barrier is used.”
Dozens Of Nursing Homes In New York Lack One-Week Supply Of PPE, Federal Data Show.
Crain’s New York Business (8/6, Henderson) reports “dozens of nursing homes in New York continue to lack a one-week supply of personal protective equipment, according to data from the federal government.” The data was compiled by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, which noted “that the shortages are concerning as they work to shield residents and staff of long-term-care facilities from Covid-19 outbreaks.” The piece mentions that, “at the end of July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would begin requiring all nursing homes in states with a 5% positivity rate or greater to test staff each week.”
Nursing Homes Have Received Almost $10B In COVID-19 Aid Even Though About 40,000 Residents Have Died From The Illness.
The Miami Herald (8/6, Wieder) reports, “Nursing homes, which rely almost exclusively on state and federal payments from Medicaid and Medicare, are heavy political spenders and not shy about flexing that political muscle.” As the novel coronavirus “has led to more than 150,000” deaths “and more than 40,000 deaths nationwide in nursing homes, owners have pushed for immunity from lawsuits stemming from their handling of the virus.” Issues “at some homes predate the virus and...industry insiders acknowledge many nursing homes didn’t have sufficient infection controls to stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19.” Although “they’ve had mixed success in winning immunity, nursing homes have gotten nearly $10 billion in federal funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to help offset COVID-19 costs.”
CPR News (August 6)
Members of the National Guard are deployed across the country to assist overwhelmed health departments and skilled nursing facilities hit hard by COVID-19. In California — one of the hardest-hit states — members of the Guard also running mobile pop-up testing sites. California leads the nation in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. California National Guard members are stationed in nursing homes performing a variety of tasks. Some are taking care of the residents' daily and medical needs. Others perform duties such as rearranging furniture and disinfecting facilities. More than 200 medical personnel have responded. They've been in at least 25 nursing homes, two hospitals, and two other medical centers since the virus hit the Golden State.
Virginia Group Homes For People With Disabilities Say They Have Received No COVID-19 Aid.
The Washington Post (8/5, Contrera) reports a “letter to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam warned of a crisis within a crisis: The industry built to support adults with developmental disabilities was being financially crushed by the pandemic.” A group “of service providers, desperate for personal protective equipment and other supports, hoped to alert the governor to their increasingly desperate situation.” But they said they received no response to the letter dated June 1. As a result, the group is “calling on Virginia lawmakers to address their needs in the Aug. 18 special session of the General Assembly, and sending another letter to Northam (D), warning that ‘unless immediate and substantial action is taken, several providers may face imminent threat of closure.’”
Federal Government Criticizes Maryland For Nursing Home Inspection “Failure.”
The Washington Post (8/5, Tan) reports “the federal government criticized Maryland on Wednesday for what it called a ‘failure’ to implement mandatory inspections related to the coronavirus pandemic at its 227 nursing homes, where nearly 5,000 residents have tested positive for the virus and 1,133 have died.” In a letter sent “to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), the Trump administration said all but three states in the country had met the federal deadline of sending inspectors to check for infection-control violations at all licensed skilled nursing facilities by July 1.” Beyond missing the deadline, the letter said Maryland “ranks last and far behind the other States.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma wrote, “It is absolutely critical that you immediately prioritize the health and safety of your state’s nursing home residents by completing the Trump Administration’s required inspections for all certified nursing homes in Maryland.”
Fox News (8/5, Stimson) reports that in the letter, Verma wrote, “I write today to express my extreme concern for the health and safety of Maryland’s aged population due to your state’s failure to conduct federally required infection control inspections of Maryland nursing homes.” Meanwhile, “the Hogan administration called the letter ‘inaccurate and baseless,’ saying it has inspected nearly 75% of the state’s 227 nursing homes.” Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci said, “With Maryland reporting its lowest positivity rate on record today, we suggest the administration focus its time and energy on states experiencing spikes and outbreaks instead of launching inaccurate and baseless attacks.”
The Baltimore Sun (8/5, Cohn, Wood) reports “the letter said the state not only missed federally mandated deadlines, but with just over half of the facilities inspected, had the worst record in the country by far.” Verma said in the letter, “To prevent transmission of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), I urge you to immediately complete inspections of all of your state’s nursing homes as soon as possible.”
Eleven “Clinically Recovered” People At Massachusetts Veterans’ Home Test Positive For Coronavirus For Second Time.
The Boston Herald (8/5, Cotter) reports 11 “people who were viewed as clinically recovered at the coronavirus-ravaged Holyoke Solders’ Home have tested positive again for the virus, according to the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services.” Four of the people “who have re-tested positive are veterans living in the home, and the other seven are staff members, the state said.” Only one of the people – “a veteran resident – has any symptoms, and the state says those can be explained by a different medical condition.”
MSN (August 5)
Florida was one of the earliest states to lock down elder-care facilities in the coronavirus pandemic, and the move helped stave off widespread deaths at such centers in the spring. But as the state contends with a surge of new infections, those defenses have faltered, triggering a fresh round of government interventions.