State Rep. Hank Vaupel, of Fowlerville, today said the recommendations outlined in the state’s nursing home task force report illustrate the need for big changes to 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 Vaupel was appointed by the governor to serve on – presented the final version of its report to the governor. The document outlines 28 wide-ranging recommendations, underscoring the need for changes to COVID-19 nursing home policies. Vaupel said he specifically fought for strengthening infection and patient admission protocols within long-term care facilities, both of which were featured in the report.
“The impact this virus has had on our elderly, especially those in nursing homes, has been horrible,” Vaupel said. “We all knew well before COVID-19 made its way into Michigan that seniors were far more susceptible to serious complications, yet policies were implemented that sent the virus to those living in long-term care settings. The result has been tragic, which is why I went to work right away on finding effective solutions to protect our most vulnerable.”
Final recommendations by the Nursing Home Preparedness Task Force include:
- Urging hospitals not to discharge COVID-positive residents back to nursing homes if they have less than 72 hours remaining in their isolation periods.
- Preventing COVID-positive patients from being discharged to “COVID-19 naïve facilities” – facilities that have not had COVID-positive residents – except in exceptional circumstances.
- 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.
- 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.
A bill introduced by state Rep. Hank Vaupel, chair of the House Health Policy Committee, creating a uniform Community Mental Health Services credentialing process, was approved today by the Michigan House of Representatives.
State Rep. Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville and successor Bob Bezotte of Howell are hosting virtual office hours over Zoom to remain accessible to constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaupel and Bezotte will be joined by Dianne McCormick and Dr. Juan Marquez from the Livingston County Health Department.