Recently I wrote an article about steps people could take to look out for their family members in nursing homes during the Covid 19 pandemic. The concerns of two weeks ago have become reality today. The industry’s failure to take necessary precautions have lead to deaths in devastating numbers at facilities nationwide.
Last week it was reported there were 19 deaths at a single St. Charles, Missouri nursing home; 17 deaths at a single Kansas City, Kansas facility; 17 bodies were found in one New Jersey nursing home and in Massachusetts there were 30 residents killed in one home. It is not misfortune or bad luck that these nursing homes have such incredibly high numbers.
The Kansas City facility, according to the Kansas City Star, received low marks in inspections from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2 out of 5 stars) before the outbreak. The blame lies at the feet of the corporate owners who wanted to maximize profit by having inadequate staffing and resources to care for their residents before this crisis began. One facility in Kansas is a great example of what short staffing can cause. The staffing was so short that an employee worked with symptoms of the virus for three days without being screened. When finally her fever was taken she had been spreading the virus throughout the facility for three days. And then it was too late.
The CDC issued guidelines for long term care facilities. This includes actively screening anyone entering the building (Staff, ancillary staff, vendors, consultants) for fever and symptoms of COVID-19 before starting each shift and to send ill personnel home. It also requires that all health care professionals in the facility wear a facemask or cloth face covering for source control while in the facility.
An article in Monday’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette, outlined Nursing Homes lobbyist putting on a full press with their lobbying groups to get immunity from the deaths occurring at their facilities. There have been already 20,000 coronavirus deaths of nursing home residents many of whom were due to the negligence of the facilities. Nursing homes for years have been trying to lobby for immunity and they are going to use their negligence during the Covid 19 pandemic to try to get it.
Our long-term health care workers are a vital part of the care received by our elderly. They are under enormous stress and it is important that the nursing home owners do everything they need to do to ensure that their employees receive the support necessary to do their job. Our elderly deserve being treated even more carefully than the rest of us because of their vulnerability to this virus. It is critical that at the bare minimum these facilities follow the basic CDC guidelines.