Nursing Homes Urged To Take Extra Precaution Ahead Of Holidays.
ABC News (11/19, Mosk, Romero, Freger) reports, “As coronavirus rates surge across the nation, the Trump administration issued new recommendations this week urging residents and staff of nursing homes to avoid contact with relatives during the upcoming holiday season – a dark reminder of the threat now bearing down on seniors in congregate settings.” Since the beginning of the pandemic through Nov. 18, “nearly 94,000 people have died in those facilities, according to an ABC News analysis of state data – representing about 37% of all deaths nationwide. Approximately 1.4 million people live in nursing care in the U.S.” The COVID Tracking Project, “run by The Atlantic, reported this week that nursing homes infections rose 17% during the week ending Nov. 17, the sharpest national increase they had seen since May.”
Senators From Pennsylvania Unveil Bipartisan Bill Which Seeks To Increase Oversight Of Nursing Homes.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11/19, Varine) reports Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) “were exploring weaknesses in the country’s nursing homes long before the coronavirus pandemic, commissioning a June 2019 report examining their federal oversight.” Recently, “they announced a bipartisan bill that aims to enhance accountability among the nation’s poorest-performing nursing homes.” Casey said, “Since the first outbreak of covid-19 at a nursing facility in February, more than 94,000 residents and workers in nursing homes and long-term-care facilities have died from the virus. ... We have an imperative to help nursing home residents and workers amid this public health crisis, and we must also improve care quality in nursing facilities – especially those that have a consistent pattern of failing safety and care standards.”
Colorado Nursing Homes See Increase In Outbreaks.
The AP (11/19) reports, “Health officials in Colorado have revealed in a newly released report that 57 nursing homes and 58 assisted living facilities statewide were experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, up from the 43 facilities of each type reported a week earlier.”
The Denver Post (11/19) reports, “A week earlier, 43 facilities of each type reported outbreaks.” The Post adds, “Ten of the current outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living facilities involve 50 or more residents, and seven have recorded 10 or more deaths.”
Iowa Governor Earmarks $14M In Federal Funds To Assist Long-Term Care Centers.
The AP (11/19, McFetridge) reports Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) “announced Thursday that she will provide $14 million in federal funds to Iowa’s long-term care centers to help them manage new outbreaks of the coronavirus at the facilities.” The federal “virus relief money will pay for additional testing and staffing at the long-term care centers, and it comes at a time when Reynolds said another 20 facilities are dealing with outbreaks of the coronavirus.” That “means about a quarter of the state’s care homes now have outbreaks.”
Neglect In Nursing Homes Reportedly Leading To Tens Of Thousands Of Deaths Amid Pandemic.
The AP (11/19, Sedensky, Condon) reports that “as more than 90,000 of the nation’s long-term care residents have died in a pandemic that has pushed staffs to the limit, advocates for the elderly say a tandem wave of death separate from the virus has quietly claimed tens of thousands more, often because overburdened workers haven’t been able to give them the care they need.” According to the AP, “nursing home watchdogs are being flooded with reports of residents kept in soiled diapers so long their skin peeled off, left with bedsores that cut to the bone, and allowed to wither away in starvation or thirst.” Furthermore, “interviews with dozens of people across the country reveal swelling numbers of less clear-cut deaths that doctors believe have been fueled not by neglect but by a mental state plunged into despair by prolonged isolation.”
COVID-19 Strengthening Grip On Senior Citizens In Long-Term Care Facilities.
Bloomberg (11/18, Querolo) reports COVID-19 “is strengthening its grip on one of the most vulnerable populations: senior citizens in long-term care.” Last week, Bloomberg says, “states reported more than 29,000 new Covid-19 cases in places such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.” Counts increased “roughly 17% week over week, the steepest acceleration since May, when the Covid Tracking Project began tallying the data.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma “has warned of the dangers in nursing homes, where 19% of facilities have at least 10 cases. The ‘name of the game is to control the spread inside the nursing homes,’ she told governors this week, according to a summary provided by Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s (D) office.”
Bloomberg (11/19, Querolo, LaVito) reports in a separate piece that “the tip of the coronavirus spear is piercing the country’s long-term care facilities again in a surge that underscores the nation’s repeated failure to protect its most vulnerable.” Public health experts, state leaders, “and owners are sounding the loudest alarms over the spike in nursing homes and long-term care, where cases were falling until September.” Visits from family members “traveling for the holidays threaten to exacerbate the outbreak.”
HHS Secretary Said 99% Of US Nursing Homes Have Signed Up For Vaccine Program.
CNBC (11/18, Lovelace) reports that the Trump Administration “said Wednesday that it is seeing ‘tremendous uptake’ of a program that will allow CVS Health and Walgreens to administer coronavirus vaccines to seniors in long-term care facilities.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar “said that 99% of skilled nursing facilities across the country have signed up for the program, which will give Covid-19 vaccines to seniors free of charge and will be available to residents in all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, residential care homes and adult family homes.” Azar “said during a press conference on the Trump administration’s vaccine program Operation Warp Speed: ‘The ultimate goal here is to make getting a Covid-19 vaccine as convenient as getting a flu shot.’”
Health Affairs (November 17)
The continued isolation of these fragile residents is triggering alarm among advocates that yet another crisis looms. It is among many key concerns to have emerged as the deadly virus ravaged nursing homes throughout the United States, alongside such issues as lack of sufficient personal protective equipment and testing, and state policies mandating or incentivizing nursing facilities to accept COVID-19-positive patients. But these latest troubles are merely symptomatic of a broader constellation of nursing home issues that predate the pandemic. COVID-19 pulled back the curtain on longstanding cracks in the entire long-term care system, exposing deep flaws in the way we care for our country’s most vulnerable people.
COVID-19 Cases Have Reached All-Time High In US Nursing Homes, Report Says.
USA Today (11/17, Alltucker) reports new COVID-19 “cases have surged to an all-time high at nursing homes across the country despite federal efforts to shield residents through aggressive testing and visitor restrictions, a new report shows.” US data show “10,279 COVID-19 cases during the week of Nov. 1, the most recent data available. The figures surpassed the previous high of 9,903 cases in late July, according to a report by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.” AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said, “We have been begging people the last eight months to wear a mask, socially distance and to be careful. ... Unfortunately, the public has not listened or complied.”
Modern Healthcare (11/17, Christ, Subscription Publication) reports, “Weekly COVID-19 cases in nursing homes have eclipsed earlier pandemic peaks as cases across the U.S. climb, according to” the report. In the US, “weekly new cases...rose 140% to 572,613,527 in the U.S. the week of Nov. 1 and continue climbing by more than 100,000 cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins University and CMS data.” That is “an increase of 73% from mid-September when cases in nursing homes first started to rise again after falling since late July.”
South Carolina Has Logged Over 1,500 COVID-19 Deaths Among Long-Term Care Residents.
The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier (11/17, Coello) reports coronavirus infections “at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in South Carolina are matching the overall spike in incidence of the disease at centers across the country.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, “over 11,100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in 408 separate outbreaks among staff and residents in South Carolina alone.” Beyond “the 1,524 deaths among long-term care residents, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has confirmed 24 cases of staff members dying from the novel coronavirus.”
Wisconsin Governor Giving Additional $80M To Nursing Homes Amid Pandemic.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (11/17, Volpenhein) reports, “Gov. Tony Evers (D) and his administration said Tuesday they would give an additional $80 million to Wisconsin nursing homes, as the facilities suffer from staffing shortages during the latest wave of coronavirus cases.” Roughly “$50 million will be used for costs related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as higher overtime or personal protective equipment, that nursing homes incurred between March and August, said DHS spokesperson Jennifer Miller.” The other “$30 million will be put toward a program to encourage nursing homes to accept new admissions in need of further medical care from hospitals, according to the press release.”
Pennsylvania Senators Lead Bipartisan Effort To Expand Federal Oversight, Resources Of Nursing Homes Amid Pandemic.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (11/17, Moore) reports, “As the country’s nursing homes approach 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, Pennsylvania’s senators are leading a bipartisan effort to expand federal oversight and resources to more underperforming facilities.” Legislation Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) “are expected to unveil Tuesday would add about 446 troubled nursing homes to a federal oversight program that currently focuses on improving quality of care at just 84 facilities.” The CMS-run program “targets facilities that show a pattern of recurring problems during state inspections.” The CMS “has put pressure on state agencies to complete more inspections.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma “said in June that the agency had required states to complete the surveys by July 31 or risk losing part of their federal funding.”
CMS Says Just 12.5% Of Nursing Home Staff In The US Has Completed Government COVID-19 Training.
Modern Healthcare (11/17, Christ, Subscription Publication) reports just “12.5% of the country’s one million nursing home staff has completed government COVID-19 training, according to CMS.” To date, “125,506 people at 7,313 nursing homes have taken the training, which was announced Aug. 25, CMS said Tuesday. There are 1,092 nursing homes at which 50% or more of staff have completed the training.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “Ultimately, the ownership and management of every nursing must take it on themselves to ensure their staff is fully equipped to keep residents safe. With coronavirus cases increasing across the country and infection control identified as a major issue, we encourage all nursing homes to take advantage of this no-cost opportunity to train their staff.”
Health Advocates Warn Belgium Making Same Coronavirus Mistakes At Nursing Homes As It Did In Spring.
The Washington Post (11/17, Birnbaum) reports the coronavirus is still hitting Belgian nursing homes hard, similar to the spring and summer, “and advocates say some of the same broad mistakes are cementing Belgium’s status as a country where reported coronavirus deaths per capita are off the charts.” Staff at nursing homes “lament that they are being sidelined again, while policymakers focus on protecting the hospital system from being overwhelmed.”
National Guard To Assist Kentucky Nursing Homes As COVID-19 Outbreaks Continue.
The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal (11/16, Austin) reports, “Kentucky is sending National Guard members to assist nursing homes as the state continues to see coronavirus outbreaks in senior care facilities, officials announced Monday.” Kentucky’s “recent surge in coronavirus cases has been reflected in long-term care facilities, which have seen a dramatic increase in positive cases, said Eric Friedlander, secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.” The National Guard “members will provide nonclinical support such as disinfecting facilities and helping with resident transportation.”
Miami Herald Says No Evidence Florida Is “Protecting The Vulnerable” From COVID-19.
The Miami (FL) Herald (11/16, Conarck, Klas) fact checks claims by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration that Florida is “protecting the vulnerable” from COVID-19. The Herald argues, “There’s no evidence the vulnerable are being protected from the novel virus as it continues to move through the state” with daily cases “up about 150% from where they were on October 1.” An AARP report “shows that in the four weeks ending Oct. 18, 61% of all nursing homes in Florida had a staff member test positive for COVID-19.”
Many Long-Term Care Workers Struggle With Grief Due To Coronavirus Suffering They’ve Witnessed.
Kaiser Health News (11/16, Graham) reports that “as the coronavirus surges around the country...hundreds of thousands of workers in nursing homes and assisted living centers are watching cases rise in long-term care facilities with a sense of dread.” Many of the “workers struggle with grief over the suffering they’ve witnessed, both at work and in their communities.” Since the pandemic started, “more than 616,000 residents and employees at long-term care facilities have been struck by COVID-19, according to the latest data from KFF,” and “just over 91,000 have died as the coronavirus has invaded nearly 23,000 facilities.”
Belgian Authorities Failed To Protect Thousands Of Nursing Home Residents During Pandemic, Amnesty International Says.
The AP (11/16, Petrequin) reports, “Belgian authorities ‘abandoned’ thousands of elderly people who died in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic and did not seek hospital treatment for many who were infected, violating their human rights, Amnesty International said in an investigation published Monday.” From March through “October, Amnesty International said ‘a staggering’ 61.3% of all COVID-19 deaths in Belgium took place in nursing homes.”