More than 43,000 people have died due to COVID-19 in the US. 20% or more than 7,300 of those deaths have been in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Most of those deaths have occurred in New York and New Jersey.
The first indicator that nursing homes were vulnerable came from the state of Washington at the Life Care Center in Kirkland in February. 37 people associated with the center have died and 129 people had the virus by March 18th. 81 of that number were residents, along with 34 staff members. That facility has since been disqualified by Medicare and is being fined daily.
Many of the nation’s nursing homes have been cited for poor infection control even before COVID-19 appeared on our shores, making the elderly and vulnerable population subject to respiratory, urinary tract, and digestive tract infections.
Many of the facilities that are experiencing coronavirus deaths already had infractions. According to the Washington Post:
Among the facilities with infection-control infractions: the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, Md., where 24 people had died as of Thursday; the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center near Richmond, with 49 deaths as of Thursday; and the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in southwestern Pennsylvania, where officials have warned that all 750 residents and staff members could be infected.
No visitors allowed
If any of you have or have had a loved one in a nursing home, you know that visiting often and advocating for that person is necessary to secure the kind of care your loved one needs. In fact, it might be the difference between life and death for them.
But visiting is not allowed at most if not all nursing homes in an effort to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus, leaving family members in a state of anxiety about the well-being of their loved ones.
Facilities like the King David Center in Manhattan, provide ways to connect with relatives using technology. Each resident has access to a tablet for entertainment but also communications with family and friends. Family members can call and request appointments to visit with their relatives. This might help some people, but not all elderly people in nursing homes will know how to use this technology.
But technology notwithstanding, very few people have been able to say goodbye to their dying loved ones.