Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bill Crawford: Nursing Homes Need More Help as Covid-19 Deaths Mount

Mississippians trust the care of precious loved ones to many wonderful nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns.

While 13% of the state’s virus cases occurred in long-term care facilities, they had 50% of deaths (the national average is about 33%).

More specifically, through May 21 there had been 1,646 cases reported at long-term care facilities with 309 deaths, a mortality rate of 18.7%. Excluding those, state cases totaled 11,359 with 307 deaths, a mortality rate of 2.7%.

As deaths mount, many are asking if their loved ones are safe in these facilities.

No clear answer has been provided by the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH).

State Health Officer and MSDH director Dr. Thomas Dobbs told WLBT long term care facilities have “heightened risk factors” because residents are older and live in close quarters. CMS Administrator Seema Verma called nursing homes “ground zero” for the virus as the federal government increased reporting and testing requirements.

Two weeks ago Gov. Tate Reeves and Dobbs announced all patients and staff at long-term care facilities will be tested. Reeves said testing and contact tracing is especially important in long-term care facilities.

This follows the issuance of strict infection control and other screening recommendations in mid-March by federal health officials and more detailed guidance issued on April 2nd. As thorough and detailed as the government issuances were, they were recommendations, not requirements.

We do not know how well our facilities have implemented them. What little we know has been anecdotal from local newspaper and TV reports and blogs.

Nationally, in late March, CMS conducted surveys that showed 36% of facilities did not follow proper hand washing guidelines and 25% failed to demonstrate proper use of personal protective equipment, both longstanding prescribed infection control measures for all nursing homes.

Mississippi has approximately 414 long-term care facilities (the number varies each year) with 33,604 beds located in 81 counties. There are 208 nursing homes, 184 personal care homes, 8 psychiatric residential facilities, and 14 intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Many are small with limited financial resources and staff capacity. Most are privately owned and not eager for much regulatory oversight.

While federal and state sources have provided protective equipment, supplies, and virus test kits and the National Guard may help with testing, many need additional financial and staff resources plus oversight to cope with this crisis.

On April 2nd, Dobbs told the Jackson Jambalaya blog the department would not increase inspections at nursing homes, but would send inspectors to those with cases to ensure proper isolation and quarantine measures were followed. The surge in cases coupled with major staff cuts imposed on MSDH by the Legislature suggests the agency has too few inspectors to provide needed support.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities play a vital role in caring for our elderly citizens. Most do wonderful jobs in normal circumstances but were unprepared for COVID-19. With Dobbs expecting cases to “skyrocket” in the fall, he, Reeves, and legislators should go all out to get these facilities the financial resources and staff support needed to assure our loved ones’ safety.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right” – Philippians 4:8.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.

Kingfish note: Several states have not reported nursing home deaths.


Anonymous said...

They need help from congress & state to pass laws protecting nursing home from getting the S**t sued out of them by shifty lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Staff cuts by the legislature? Please explain, Bill, rather than just make a comment without documentation.

According to Dobbs, and to Dilbert, and to Phillip, and to Tater - MDOH has all the resources it needs to handle the COVID crisis.

We have only your cryptic comment that there aren't enough inspectors due to legislative cuts as "possibly" being the reason for what you see as the problem. Damn, it must be nice to be able to sit at home, make up crap, and publish it as fact when you need to come up with 750 words to send out by Sunday so as to remain relevant.

Anonymous said...

Birx at it again.

Anonymous said...

Take away the top 20% of Mississippi nursing homes and where do you suppose the bottom 80% of Mississippi would rank as far as quality of care and infection control when compared to similar groupings from the other 49 states?

But heck yeah, some more tort reform might help the nursing home industry git-r-dun.

Green Acres said...

@10:08 - The Legislature already did that. Remember tort reform?

Anonymous said...

“ The Legislature already did that. Remember tort reform?”

Hey smart ass, how many $500k “capped” lawsuits can you pay out?

1? 5?

Considering 50% of the deaths are in nursing homes... how does $150m in damages sound to you?

Go troll on FoxNews.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Crawford:

WWJH do ?

( What would Jim Hood do ) ?

Anonymous said...

In the last few years I have had my father, mother In lawand aunt in a nursing home. I have no complaints as they were all treated well. The staff was great and the facilities were clean and well kept. My father and aunt were 93 when they passed away , mother in law 102. If you spend time visiting you will see many of all ages who have zero quality of life. It makes you hope that when you reach that level that your time will be brief

Anonymous said...

All this is a bunch of commie crap. So what if some old people die. That’s what happens when you get old. They are just trying to beat Trump, the greatest president of all time.

The Future Looks Bleak For The Industry said...

Mr. Crawford throws stuff at the wall but makes not a single recommendation.

Ten comments that I just read toss around their best, professional analysis but make no recommendation.

For these (mostly) elderly loved ones, given their conditions and need for a safe place, is there an affordable alternative?

The turnover rate in every occupation at nursing homes has been tremendous for decades. What are we going to do when there are no nurses, maintenance men, cooks, CNAs and degreed administrators, contract hair-dressers and floor-moppers who will agree to continue working or applying in the industry?

Green Acres said...

@9:39 - I want to make sure I understand you. You're saying that old people are communists who are deliberately dying of C-19 in nursing homes in order to defeat Trump? Did I get that right?

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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