Medical lab facility, health care organizations, constituents detail flaws
A group of House Republican legislators and local residents today detailed the failures of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s controversial policy that has forced contagious COVID-19-positive patients into Michigan nursing homes and demanded immediate changes.
The coalition called for the Whitmer administration to release information about the decision after weeks of stalling by state officials, 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.
State Rep. Kathy Crawford, of Novi, who chairs the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee and has over 30 years of professional experience in the field of aging services, said the governor’s order to force nursing homes to house COVID-19 patients wasn’t just a mistake – but a fatal error in judgement.
“The governor knew better. She knew long before COVID-19 made its way into Michigan that our state’s elderly – especially those with underlying health conditions – were most susceptible to serious complications of the deadly virus,” Crawford said. “The nursing home protocols the administration implemented are irresponsible, negligent and reckless. The people put in harm’s way by this policy are not expendable. These are grandmothers, grandfathers, moms, dads, brothers and sisters who are being put in danger. We are better than this, and we have to better than this. It’s time the governor prioritizes the health and safety of all Michiganders and looks for a better alternative.”
Joining lawmakers 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 adequate supplies of PPE equipment for employees. Audio recording of each person’s personal story shared at the press conference are available upon request.
Rep. Ryan Berman, of Commerce Township, detailed how long-term care facilities are not equipped to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients, citing minimal staffing levels and lack of PPE equipment and testing capabilities at the height of the pandemic.
“Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities were not at the top of the governor’s priority list to receive PPE, other life-saving equipment and testing to combat COVID-19,” Berman said. “The governor knew a minimal supply of resources would be available in Michigan’s nursing homes, yet felt it was necessary to place COVID-19 patients in the same facilities as healthy residents and caregivers. This was a recipe for disaster from the very beginning and only time will tell how many families have been tragically hurt by the governor’s decisions. The people of Michigan deserve answers.”
To date, at least a quarter of the state’s coronavirus deaths – more than 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.
“These are unprecedented times we are facing and we needed a real plan to keep Michigan moving forward in a safe and sensible fashion,” Crawford said. “The Legislature has spent months hearing from concerned residents and we’ve received those concerns and developed a better course of action that will protect people and their families.”
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