Articles Posted in Nursing homes

canursestaffingprotest-300x149The U.S. health care system and all who rely on it may be reaching painful reckonings on how the coronavirus pandemic keeps affecting caregiving personnel, whether with highly trained nurses who are forcing hospitals to pay them more or see them leave or with poorly paid and ill-trained aides who still aren’t getting Covid-19 shots to protect themselves and their vulnerable patients.

Great doctors, of course, may be vital to patients’ positive outcomes. But ask anyone knowledgeable how hospitals succeed — or don’t — and they will point to nurses. And that’s a professional treasure that has been battered by the pandemic,  Kaiser Health News service reported in partnership with NPR and WPLN radio in Nashville, Tenn.

Broadcast news reporter Blake Farmer found in Tennessee and nationally that hospitals are struggling to maintain their nursing ranks, particularly among their most seasoned and specially trained pros. They have spent grueling months giving patients the round-the-clock, intensive care demanded in serious cases, notably for coronavirus infections.

drugselderly-150x150The nation’s nursing homes, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, are under more fire for their resurgent reliance on powerful and risky psychiatric drugs and shaky diagnoses of mental illness to treat elderly residents, as well as for the institutions’ inability to safeguard the old, sick, and injured in their care by ensuring their staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Facilities across the country have recorded a 70% spike in dubious designations of elderly residents as schizophrenic. This means they may be dosed with potent antipsychotic drugs, which, critics say, act akin to pharmaceutical restraints and can reduce the vulnerable to near vegetative states, the New York Times reported, based on its investigation of the issue.

The newspaper noted that federal regulators and mental health professionals have campaigned for years to get nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to stop using certain medications, which once were more routinely administered and pack more than a wallop for the old:

bodybag-150x150In recent days, academic researchers and politicians have made distressing disclosures about the terrible toll the coronavirus pandemic took on the aged, injured, and sick in nursing homes and other long term care facilities with new data suggesting the disease infected more of the vulnerable and killed more of them than previously known.

Government officials, in the pandemic’s early days, may have failed to count 16,000 nursing home deaths due to the coronavirus, researchers at Harvard, UCLA, the University of Minnesota, and Massachusetts General Hospital reported in an online section of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Before federal reporting rules took effect in May 2020, officials also may have missed 68,000 more nursing home infections, the researchers found.

childcovidcasesaugend21-300x168As tens of millions of travelers hit the road  to enjoy the Labor Day weekend, public health officials warned the unvaccinated anew against moving around freely during the holiday marking the unofficial end of summer. Authorities cautioned the vaccinated, too, against letting their guard down as the Delta variant fuels a fourth, deadly surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have spiked after too many of the holidays in recent months, experts say. And the sunny optimism that led health officials to forecast a significant quelling of the coronavirus by this summer’s Independence Day has, of course, wilted in the continuing rise of the Delta onslaught.

The U.S. health care system, already buckling in many regions under the pandemic’s terrible recent spike, underwent more pummeling by raging Western wildfires and a hurricane that drenched the Gulf Coast and then pounded the Northeast with spin-off weather calamities (like a tornado) and drenching rains. The inundation of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York claimed dozens of lives and wreaked havoc on regional infrastructure, even as Gulf Coast residents struggled with unbearable late-summer heat and humidity and without basics like dependable food and water supplies, reliable electric power, and undamaged and livable housing.

agedcare-300x200Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities keep bleeding staff, and their inability to hire and keep  workers poses significant risks to the well-being of aged, sick, and injured residents — a vulnerable group already savaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The long-term care industry employed 3 million  personnel in July, which is 380,000 fewer staff than were on facilities payrolls in February 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported of federal labor statistics. Terry Robertson, chief executive of Josephine Caring Community, a long-term-care facility in Stanwood, Wash., told the newspaper this:

“I’ve been in the industry for 40 years and I’ve never seen it this bad.”

deltadixieft-300x187The coronavirus has killed almost 630,000 Americans, with the pandemic adding in its fourth surge now under way 1,000 deaths a day or 42 fatalities per hour.

The disease has infected almost 38 million of us, with more than 145,000 new cases occurring each day in recent weeks.

More than 90,000 coronavirus patients were in hospitals nationwide in the last week, more than in any previous surge except last winter’s, the New York Times reported.

casey-150x150wyden-1-150x150Senate Democrats, including chairs of two powerful committees, have started to tackle the nightmarish problems that experts blame for allowing the coronavirus pandemic to take a terrible toll on vulnerable residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Under a bill introduced by Ron Wyden, an Oregon senator and chair of the Senate Finance Committee (shown above, left), and Bob Casey Jr., a Pennsylvanian and chair of the Aging Committee (above, right), federal officials would both push and assist the facilities to improve health worker staffing, infection control, and regulatory oversight, notably through better inspections, the Associated Press and other news organizations reported.

The AP summarized the highlights of the Wyden-Casey measure, also supported by four other senators, thusly, noting it seeks to:

From the It’s-about-time department: Nursing homes and long-term care facilities finally have started to require their health workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported as of Aug. 6 that ~1.6 million long-term care residents and 1.3 million health workers in the care facilities were fully vaccinated.

But with coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and community spread spiking this summer — especially due to the unvaccinated and the Delta variant — nursing homes have seen worrisome signs of their own of the pandemic’s resurgence. And they, along with other health care institutions, can no longer ignore the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines, the New York Times and other media organizations have reported. As the newspaper noted:

chairwheelnride-196x300The Biden Administration has ended another egregious health-related policy of its predecessor, reversing the leniency the Trump Administration gave to nursing homes in penalizing them for putting residents at risk or injuring them.

Regulators may now return to slapping owners and operators of problem facilities with mounting, costly daily fines, rather than giving them a single, much lower penalty assessed as if inspectors found a single instance of a violation, the New York Times reported.

This means the facilities again can be subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, versus a maximum, onetime $22,000 penalty.

candidacdcauris-300x135Alarms are sounding yet again that the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities may need to increase important infection control measures and reexamine what’s going on with the staff they need to safeguard patients.

Details are still emerging. But federal officials say they have sufficient evidence to report a new outbreak of  Candida auris, aka C. Auris, highly drug-resistant fungus, in a nursing home in Washington, D.C., and at two Dallas-based hospitals.

This “superbug” is considered a menace because infected patients do not respond to treatment with three major drug groups. This outbreak also has experts’ attention because it shows signs of a different way of spreading — patient-to-patient transmission.

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