Covid 19 and Nursing Homes

Recently, two good friends of mine with physical limitations who had been waiting for over a year to enter a carefully chosen assisted living/long term healthcare facility changed their minds about going. They found out that the facility had at least one resident with Covid 19. They are now staying at home with help from their sons, friends and a paid caregiver.

And my 97 year old friend Melissa with heart and mobility problems is adamant about staying at home to be cared for, primarily by her wonderful family. Recently, she developed a disturbing symptom but instead of going to her doctor as usual, her doctor was able to come to her via a telehealth visit by computer. Melissa is happy at home and knows that other options like home hospice are available if necessary.

Are these three people overreacting about nursing homes?

In my opinion, the answer is probably no at this time.

Unfortunately, long-term health facilities for the elderly have become hotbeds for Covid 19 despite those residents being the most at risk during the pandemic. A number of  staff at those facilities have also caught Covid 19 and some have also died.

Even worse, as NBC News reported April 25, 2020:

“Three states hit hard by the pandemic — New York, New Jersey and California — have ordered nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals.” (Emphasis added)

On May 6, 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that New York nursing homes may have nearly 5,000 Covid-19 related deaths and the next day, the California Mercury News  reported that  “at least 41 percent of all known coronavirus deaths in California have occurred among residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.” (Emphasis added)

And, unfortunately, these same people are usually dying alone due to restrictions for even family members in hospitals and nursing homes. Sadly, even funerals are changing with new restrictions for ceremonies and mourners.

According to an April 21, 2020 article “Nursing Homes Balk at COVID Patient Transfers From Hospitals” by the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP):

“The American Health Care Association says discharged hospital patients should return only to nursing homes with separate COVID-19 units. Ideally, those units are staffed with employees with access to personal protective equipment. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates nursing homes, endorsed the idea of separate COVID units this month.” (Emphasis added)

CONCLUSION

I was personally shocked to discover that  only  23 states publicly reported data for cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities  as of April 23, 2020.

However, the Trump administration has recently announced upcoming new regulatory requirements that:

“will require nursing homes to inform residents, their families and representatives of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. In addition, as part of President Trump’s Opening Up America, CMS will now require nursing homes to report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” (Emphasis added)

When my mother with Alzheimer’s disease was dying from cancer in 1988, there was no pandemic and we cared for her at home as long as possible before placing her in a nursing home nearby for safety reasons. So I do know that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities can be wonderful and even necessary options.

But until this pandemic dissipates, we need all the essential information  necessary to protect and advocate for the most vulnerable among us.

5 thoughts on “Covid 19 and Nursing Homes

  1. Dear Nancy, My healthy 85 year old friend was in an uninfected independent living home when her daughter packed her a bag and drove 13 hours so she could stay safe with another daughter.

    My 40 year old friend was horrified. The 85 year might spread coronavirus!

    On the other hand, the 40 year old defended the releasing non-violent prisoners…

    Barbara Surges

    Like

  2. Nancy,

    I have a friend at Mary Queen & Mother. I called to check on her yesterday & was told no one there has COVID-19. Our Lady is taking good care of them!

    Also, did I tell you my recent mammogram said I’m cancer free. Now because I have very dense breast tissue I still have to be on the lookout for a future lump. If it does come back, it should be within 5 years & probably in the lymph nodes. I’ll be 90 in 5 years & more concerned if I still have a mind!

    I also had my carotid artery checked Mon. & just got the results from Dr. Anstey. They came back negative. Such a surprise the tech. took forever examining my right artery but not my left. Wonderful week end news.

    I’m grocery shopping, getting my car fixed & going to doctors since COVID-19. I don’t feel like a fragile old lady. I’m more concerned about the economy. Carla was furloughed at BJC. She went to work yesterday but no future shifts scheduled. I hope they don’t follow Mercy.

    Marilyn ________________________________

    Like

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