State Rep. Kathy Crawford, of Novi, today said the recommendations outlined in the state’s nursing home task force’s report illustrate the need for big changes to the governor’s dangerous COVID-19 nursing home policies.
To date, roughly one-third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths have been nursing home residents, while more than 35 percent of the state’s 199 current ongoing outbreaks have been attributed to long-term care facilities.
In June, amid growing concerns over the governor’s handling of nursing home policies throughout the pandemic, Gov. Whitmer established the Nursing Home Preparedness Task Force within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to develop recommendations for an action plan on how to best prepare nursing homes for any future wave of COVID-19 cases.
The 20-member panel – which included members of the Whitmer administration, state lawmakers, industry leaders and a nursing home employee – released the final version of its report Tuesday. The document outlines 28 wide-ranging recommendations, which Crawford says underscores the need for changes to Whitmer’s status quo.
“Big changes to the governor’s nursing home policies are needed, but let’s not forget how we ended up here in the first place,” said Crawford, who serves as the chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “This loss of life could have easily been prevented, but the governor chose not to listen to the objections and warnings being made by healthcare officials and associations. This was a new virus that posed many unknowns, but the one thing we knew was the severe consequences COVID-19 could have on our elderly. Despite this, the governor used unilateral action to send COVID-19 patients into the very nursing facilities our loved ones reside, and then proceeded to veto legislation preventing this dangerous practice all in an effort to save her image. The task force’s report says it all. The governor must take the advice of her own task force and take aggressive action to protect the health and safety of our seniors.”
Final recommendations by the Nursing Home Preparedness Task Force include:
- Improving coordination of PPE distribution and allocation to ensure nursing homes are prioritized and properly stocked.
- Establishing “Care and Recovery Centers” across the state to help serve elderly people with COVID-19 in the event of a second wave. These centers would be determined based on the ability to meet state requirements, provide high quality care and engage in rigorous and consistent infection control protocols.
- Urging hospitals not to discharge COVID-positive residents back to nursing homes if they have less than 72 hours remaining in their isolation periods.
- Encouraging outdoor visits for residents in long-term care facilities to improve their quality of life. To minimize the effects of isolation on seniors, the task force recommended small-group activities, as well as more visitation opportunities for residents who may be struggling from a lack of social interaction.
- Addressing nursing home staffing shortages by creating a new certified nursing assistance (CNA) website to allow greater access to training programs and resources, as well as transparency for CNAs searching for employment.
“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.”
State Rep. Kathy Crawford, chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, issued the following statement after the governor vetoed the Legislature’s plan to improve COVID safety measures for Michigan’s nursing home residents: “The governor has shown time and time again that she cares more about her own optics than she does about […]
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