nursing homes

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State health care regulators on Wednesday issued an emergency order freezing admissions at a Brandon assisted living facility accused of not taking proper steps to control the spread of COVID-19.

Hurricane satellite image
NOAA via News Service of Florida

A Broward County nursing home where residents died after Hurricane Irma has gone to federal courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - as it battles decisions that shut it out of government health care programs and revoked its license.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court in Fort Lauderdale against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the nursing home challenges a decision that excludes it from federal health care programs.

A new online petition is demanding a way for family members to visit their loved ones in Florida’s long-term care facilities. 

Residents and staff of long-term care facilities account for at least 40% of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus. In reaction, nursing homes have banned family visitors, scrambled for scarce personal safety equipment, and attracted scrutiny from state and federal lawmakers.

What's received less attention is that many nursing homes have remained virtually COVID-19-free. If researchers could figure out what made the difference, that could help protect nursing home residents now and in the future.

But so far, their studies have drawn wildly different conclusions.

Concern over the spread of the coronavirus has some families opting to move elderly parents out of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

More than a third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States so far happened at nursing homes.

Now Congress is demanding answers from five of the companies that run them, including one with 69 facilities in Florida. 

Shanna LaFountain has been a nursing assistant in New England for 20 years. About two months ago, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, she stopped working.

"It was an extremely hard decision," she said.

LaFountain has three children and made the decision once their schools closed and their learning went online.

"My son was not answering teachers, not doing assignments," she said. "I had to be home with my children."

The National Institutes of Health has halted its study of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has promoted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 and once claimed to be taking himself.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the agency said that although it did not appear hydroxychloroquine caused harm to patients in the study, it was also "very unlikely to be beneficial."

Despite the huge outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes, the federal agency that regulates them has failed to distribute much of the money it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, according to two members of Congress.

State Boosts COVID-19 Testing For Long-Term Care Workers

Jun 18, 2020
Under the emergency rules, which take effect July 7, nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be banned from allowing any staff members into the buildings who have not been tested for COVID-19.
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Staff members at nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be required to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks under a pair of emergency rules issued Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration.

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A grim blame game with partisan overtones is breaking out over COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents. They are a tiny slice of the population but a shockingly high proportion of Americans who have perished in the pandemic. 

The Trump administration points to facilities with low federal ratings for infection control and to some Democratic governors who required nursing homes to take recovering coronavirus patients.

Some of the worst coronavirus outbreaks have occurred at long-term care facilities that now account for more than one-third of all COVID-19 deaths in America. Some states have taken aggressive actions to slow the spread of the virus among residents and workers in nursing homes. Texas formed a strike force to assess problems at its 1,222 nursing homes.

Florida TaxWatch wants more than $136 million in projects cut from the proposed state budget, but the fiscal-watchdog group acknowledges that might be far less than what is needed because of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on state revenues.

Across the United States, nursing homes trying to protect their residents from the coronavirus eagerly await boxes of masks, eyewear and gowns promised by the federal government. But all too often the packages deliver disappointment — if they arrive at all.

Some contain flimsy surgical masks or cloth face coverings that are explicitly not intended for medical use. Others are missing items or have far less than the full week's worth of protective equipment the government promised to send. Instead of proper medical gowns, many packages hold large blue plastic ponchos.

This 2019 photo provided by the family shows Joe Sullivan, right, of the Chicago-area, with his brother, Neil. When COVID-19 began spreading across the country, Neil prayed it wouldn’t hit Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center - where 346 people live in
Family photo

Neil Sullivan was angry, frustrated and crushed with guilt. His brother Joe was rushed by ambulance from a home for people with developmental disabilities to an emergency room with a possible case of the coronavirus.

Like many long-term care facilities, VA nursing homes haven't allowed in-person visitation since early March. The separation has been hard on veterans and their families.

The state Agency for Health Care Administration on Tuesday issued the moratorium on admissions at Grace Manor at Lake Morton.
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State regulators this week hit a Lakeland assisted-living facility with an admissions moratorium after the facility failed to take proper safeguards following the hospitalization of 33 of its residents because of COVID-19.

Newly released data from the U.S. government show that nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 and more than 60,000 have fallen ill. These figures, however, don't account for all nursing homes across the country.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, about 80% of nursing homes nationwide reported data to the CDC as is now required. The remaining 20% could face fines if they don't comply.

Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the nursing home's air-conditioning system for three days, with authorities attributing as many as 12 resident deaths to conditions in the building.
NOAA

TALLAHASSEE --- A state appeals court Wednesday rejected a lawsuit that alleged negligence by Florida Power & Light when residents of a Broward County nursing home were stuck in sweltering conditions after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Vice President Mike Pence is describing Florida as a national leader as across the country states are taking gradual steps toward reopening their economies.

Nursing homes were not on our minds much before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then their residents began dying by the thousands.

While there are no definitive figures, nursing home residents and staff appear to account for about one-third of the roughly 90,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S., according to The New York Times. Those figures may be low because some states do not report such figures and the CDC is just beginning to collect them.

Of the 4,624 people who have already died of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, at least two-thirds of them were associated with nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

Last week Pennsylvania's health department said it's "executing a robust universal testing strategy" for the more than 80,000 residents and 10,000 staffers at 1,900-plus facilities.

A walker rests beside a small nursing home bed.
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Florida long-term care providers are getting a reprieve from having to pay more than $72 million in “assessments” to the state.

Older hand holding another hand
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Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday said he wants to reopen long-term care facilities so the tens of thousands of residents can once again have visitors, but he offered no details on when that would occur.

Kaiser Health News, Courtesy of Douglas Adkins

 

Mary Lanham’s assisted living complex in Florida tested all residents for COVID-19 — once in March and again in April — even though no one showed symptoms.

Tampa General Hospital

Hospitals that accept transfers of COVID-19 patients from nursing homes can expect to get paid more during the public health emergency.

Senior Care advocates are concerned about how nursing homes are treating residents during the pandemic. There is currently a state order barring visitors to nursing homes in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With more than 700 COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Sunday it has issued emergency orders to bolster testing of staff members at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Coronavirus fatalities in long-term care facilities have surpassed a grim threshold in much of the country, accounting for at least a third of the deaths in 26 states and more than half in 14 of those.

The data, which was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reports tallies from a variety of care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care residences, and other skilled nursing care settings. However, it does not break out those categories separately.

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