Articles Posted in Nursing homes

cmsseemav-150x150Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities now account for around 62,000 coronavirus deaths, 42% of the country’s total. So how is it possible that, months into the pandemic, owners and operators keep failing to fix well-known infection-control basics, like mixing healthy and infected residents and allowing poorly paid staffers to work at multiple facilities, carrying the disease from each to each?

On a side note, is it any comfort to frightened nursing home residents and outraged loved ones that Seema Verma, the nation’s chief regulator of long-term facilities, has obsessed, with taxpayer money, of course, on her image and public relations — spending on girls’ night bashes and face time with well-heeled patrons in her own party?

The independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service deserves credit for piecing together various information sources to raise significant questions about not only nursing homes and long term care facilities but also hospitals and the care giving institutions’ infection-control procedures — notably whether, with all medical science knows now about Covid-19, facilities appropriately separate and isolate individuals with coronavirus diagnoses from others uninfected.

marylandlogo-300x177It turns out there is more to be said about Maryland’s recently completed, pandemic-related checks on hundreds of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Three facilities, indeed, got expensive rebukes from state inspectors, but dozens more were hit with milder fines that also suggest widespread issues in the institutions, notably with the crucial concern of infection control.

In contrast to the Washington Post’s previous coverage of the sizable fines for Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($275,000) and Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($120,000), and Kensington Healthcare Center ($294,000), the Baltimore Sun said it, too, had obtained Maryland records indicating:

demattos-150x150Maryland officials have wrapped up pandemic-prompted inspections of 226 nursing homes with a pricey rebuke to long-term care facilities that have failed still to safeguard the elderly, sick, and injured from Covid-19, putting them at “immediate jeopardy,” instead.

Three facilities were slapped with six-figure fines after state inspectors faulted them in June and July for improperly isolating potentially contagious residents, including new admissions: Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($275,000) and Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($120,000), and Kensington Healthcare Center ($294,000).

Inspectors also asserted that a patient died at Potomac Valley after a nurse failed to provide basic life support, and the Washington Post reported, based on state data, that “at least 78 residents from the three facilities have died since the spring of Covid-19 … and more than 270 have been infected with the virus.”

nhomehall-300x206Covid-19 infections and deaths are spiking anew in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, hitting worrisome levels not seen since months ago in the pandemic. The unchecked mess in centers nationwide, but especially in the South and West, is prompting more attention to them — from lobbyists boasting White House ties, health worker “strike teams,” and Big Pharma investigators.

But even as the nation’s top overseer of long-term care calls on institutions to step up their infection control and other coronavirus-fighting efforts, researchers say that 1 in 5 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities report they lack enough personal protective equipment and staff. This occurred as recently as in July — not just at the start of the pandemic.

Even as Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the owners and operators of care facilities that her agency has “deep concern … that even in nursing homes that are doing testing on a regular basis, we are still seeing significant spread,” experts from Harvard and the University of Rochester published findings on nursing homes in a health care policy journal, concluding:

aged-199x300For the old, sick, and injured who are institutionalized, the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts to halt the spread of the disease into care facilities has created debilitating side-effects: isolation, loneliness, silence, fear, and worries of abandonment.

Facility lockdowns, combined with the relentless governmental bungling of the coronavirus response, are taking a terrible toll that may not soon be eased, the New York Times reported. Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, told the newspaper this about the situation in all too many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:

“It’s not just Covid that’s killing residents in long-term care. It’s the isolation, the loneliness.”

hhslogoaug20-300x300In response to the shattering harms of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress sought to shore up the U.S. health care system with billions of dollars in emergency aid. But the federal agency that helps to oversee the institutional care for the elderly, sick, and injured performed poorly as a steward of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

The Health and Human Services department, instead, shoveled hundreds of millions of dollars, “no strings attached,” to dubious owners or operators of facilities nationwide. These “for-profit nursing home providers … have faced accusations of Medicare fraud and kickbacks, labor violations or widespread failures in patient care,” the Washington Post reported.

The newspaper said its analysis of HHS allocations of big sums in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, also showed that:

covidgovhogan-150x150Imagine in an alternate world in which it is not the poor and ravenous Oliver Twist who implores the world for more porridge, please. Instead, think of the “poor me” cries coming from Bumble the Beadle or Mr. Limbkins, two nefarious guys who exploit kids at the venal workhouse to which Oliver is consigned.

Welcome to the Dickensian drama that continues to envelop nursing homes and other long-term care facilities savaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. It may be a harsh view, but what to make about the persistent bleating by the profit-hungry owners and operators of care homes about the cost of safeguarding and testing the institutions’ vulnerable residents and health workers?

Maryland officials, struggling themselves with “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” and confronting the prospect of state agency budget cuts of up to 20%, have told nursing homes they soon must shoulder the costs of weekly coronavirus tests for their staff, the Washington Post reported.

vaccination-300x199As the novel coronavirus infections and deaths keep skyrocketing, Americans more and more have been forced into tough risk analyses, and frankly, too often thinking like gamblers. They are, for example, looking a lot at the much-promoted possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine in desperate poker ways — “betting on the come” and playing “river, river …”

Experts are asking just how savvy this health care approach is, putting in high stakes in the hopes the deck is dealt just so, or believing in a cliff’s edge rescue when the last cards on the table are flopped over to reveal a winner? Is it reality check time? And is there is a Plan B?

Vaccine makers around the world are racing to produce a viable response to Covid-19. U.S. infections have skyrocketed past 4 million and the disease is heading toward killing 150,000 Americans. Politicians and public health officials continue to speak optimistically about “Operation Warp Speed” and other campaigns globally to develop a vaccine that experts say will play a vital role in blunting Covid-19’s sickening and lethal spree through humanity.

CMS-300x105Five months after national media sounded alarms about  a novel coronavirus savaging a Washington state long-term care center, federal regulators have begun to roust themselves with more vigor to safeguard hundreds of thousands of elderly, sick, and injured residents of nursing homes and other similar facilities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — which is supposed to be the country’s top long-term care watchdog — is barking lots now about its regulatory activity, including promises to send owners and operators billions of dollars more in aid, ordering staffers in areas of great virus risk to undergo weekly Covid-19 tests,  shipping equipment for them to do so, and ramping up inspections.

Owners and operators have offered guarded praise and thanks to the agency. But skeptics say it is yet more of the Trump Administration’s baleful pandemic response — too little and too late.

cmschiefSeemaVerma-150x150With the calendar pages flying off to the fall presidential elections, why isn’t today an excellent time for President Trump to thank Seema Verma for her service and send her packing as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services?

Two news organizations — Vox and Politico — have posted detailed and disturbing takedowns of CMS and its oversight failures that have helped to worsen the terrible Covid-19 toll in the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

CMS, for example, halted nursing home inspections as the pandemic broke out — with disastrous consequences, as the Washington Post explains in a separate report. The agency earlier had also acceded to industry bleating about tough regulation, with Verma and her agency relaxing fines on owners and operators for detected problems and easing training requirements for under paid, over worked, and already ill-trained caregivers. The training standards have gotten so lax that a reporter, in 40 minutes of online effort, became certified temporarily to be a 24/7 caregiving aide.

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