Medical lab facility, health care organizations, constituents detail flaws
Novi – Rep. Bronna Kahle this week joined several colleagues and local residents to speak on behalf of some of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents and their families in Novi. Residents in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are particularly susceptible to COVID-19 and are considered to be a high-risk population.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s controversial policy that requires contagious COVID-19-positive patients to be placed into Michigan nursing homes has been under scrutiny by the bi-partisan Senate Oversight Committee and many legislators and concerned families are demanding immediate changes.
Kahle called for the Whitmer administration to release information about this policy after weeks of stalling by state officials. She also called for the administration to improve current conditions, and utilize field hospitals, hotels and other infrastructure that can be retrofitted to care for COVID-19 patients in need of skilled nursing care.
Kahle, of Adrian, who previously served as a senior center director, called Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policy “a grave concern.”
“Tragically, the misguided policy on nursing homes was fatal to many of the most vulnerable members of our communities, and the people put in harm’s way are not expendable,” Kahle said. “These are grandmothers and grandfathers, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and they’re being put in danger and all too often forced to die alone and afraid. We need to protect our vulnerable seniors and sensibly keep them safe. They deserve better.”
Joining Kahle and other legislators were representatives from a Novi medical laboratory, who shared frustrations with the lack of state testing procedures for nursing home residents and staff; a local healthcare worker, who spoke about the effectiveness of isolation protocols for nursing home residents displaying symptoms of COVID-19 prior to testing and after; a family member of a current nursing home resident, who shared her experiences with how this policy has affected seniors without COVID-19; and a local business owner who outlined the struggles to find an adequate supply of PPE equipment for employees.
“I’m deeply discouraged that instead of reversing this policy, the governor is still forcing COVID-19 patients to be put into the same facilities as non-infected residents, putting our most vulnerable at risk,” Kahle said. “I’m standing up for these people who have no voice and calling for changes to the governor’s COVID-19 nursing home policy. We are better than this and should be working together to correct the administration’s past mistakes. We have to be sensible and we can be smarter with these policies”.
To date, at least a quarter of the state’s coronavirus deaths – roughly 1,600 – have been nursing home residents. According to cumulative data collected by the federal Centers for Services, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in total nursing home deaths. Just last week the governor admitted her nursing home policy has severe flaws, yet the policy remains active.