Articles Posted in Testing

AARP-logo-300x94For residents of nursing homes and their loved ones, new and disturbing information has come out on  long-term care facilities’ persistent failure to safeguard the vulnerable from the coronavirus that has killed tens of thousands of the institutionalized and infected hundreds of thousands of them and their caregivers.

Six months after the pandemic exploded across the country, more than a quarter of nursing homes nationwide are “reporting shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff, and almost half have staff infected with Covid-19,” according to the AARP, the country’s largest advocacy group for older Americans.

The organization based its finding on its scrutiny of federal data, reporting:

covidmapoct-300x201As the weather has turned crisper, and autumn leaves have begun to fall, in sadly predictable fashion, coronavirus cases are rising once again coast-to-coast.

More than 8 million Americans have been infected — roughly equivalent to the population of New York and far exceeding the number of people who live in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

The nation is racing toward 220,00 Covid-19 deaths, with that number rising inexorably and likely an understatement of the disease’s terrible toll. The coronavirus now has claimed as many lives as the population of cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, Salt Lake City, Utah, or Modesto, Calif.

covidtestswab-282x300The federal agency that regulates nursing homes and other long-term care facilities not only has cracked down on them with tough new requirements for coronavirus testing of their staff. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services also has flogged its plan to provide facilities with testing equipment and sample tests.

While owners and operators have grumbled about the whole process, the state of Nevada has gone a step further: Enough, its health officials have decided. They briefly halted as unacceptable the CMS tests for the virus because they say they are flawed and may put nursing home residents at risk.

Besides casting yet more doubt on CMS’s poor pandemic response with long-term care facilities,  Nevada’s balk — rescinded abruptly after federal threat — may offer an important take-away to members of the public, already flooded with findings about the novel coronavirus:

govhogan-283x300Maryland will take the lead among states in the area in re-opening nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from months of coronavirus-related closures to family members, guests, and other visitors.

Gov. Larry Hogan (shown, right) acted as the state, for the first time in months, reported that October started with zero Covid-19 fatalities and 76 of Maryland’s 227 nursing homes had active coronavirus cases — down from 130 on Aug. 5, the Washington Post reported.

After struggling through some of the worst outbreaks in long-term facilities in the area, Maryland will put significant resources into safeguarding nursing homes as they reopen, Hogan said.

cnndocsconditionreport-300x148Falsehoods, even when loudly repeated, do not magically become true. The Covid-19 pandemic rages across the United States, and the facts do not support in any way the myth that the nation is “rounding a corner” in seeing the disease diminish its destructive course or magically disappearing.

The toll of the coronavirus is ripping toward 210,000 deaths and more than 7.3 million infections, with those figures likely understated.

As the Washington Post reported of its data analysis:

burningcash-300x200Taxpayers and lawmakers have ensured that the federal Health and Human Services agency operates with roughly $2 trillion in discretionary and mandatory funding. This means the agency can employ about 80,000 staffers, many of them top experts in medical science, health care policy, and public health.

This concentration of expertise and experience, however, may mean less than ever.

That’s because just one man, and his hand-picked few, insist that they hold the absolute power to make life and death decisions for more than 330 million Americans, especially when it comes to health care and government spending on it.

wyden-150x150https://www.protectpatientsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/69/2020/09/Bob_Casey_Jr._official_photo-150x150.jpgThe White House and Senate Republicans have failed to protect more than 1.3 million Americans in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, with persistent inaction contributing to the rising toll of Covid-19 deaths and infections among the institutionalized — months after the crisis in long-term care exploded into the public consciousness.

Those are the new findings of Bob Casey and Ron Wyden, two ranking Democratic U.S. senators serving on the Aging and Finance committees, respectively. They issued their harsh criticisms and a minority staff report they requested and based on information from the Trump Administration. The Washington Post quoted Casey:

“This report lays bare the devastating cost that American families have paid as a result of the Trump administration’s incompetency and Republican inaction. The crisis in our nursing homes, which residents and workers and their families are experiencing every day, demands immediate action.”

dementiadiagram-300x204Even as news organizations reported that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a grievous toll on seniors institutionalized with dementia, a presidential panel on nursing home care split over common sense but limp recommendations on how the nation might reduce Covid-19’s savaging of the old, sick, and injured in long-term care facilities.

The unsurprising, 180-plus pages of recommendations from the Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes to the Trump Administration and specifically its long-term care facility watchdog Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) included calls for: “More money for testing, for personal protective equipment (PPE), for registered nurses, for infection control training and staff salary increases,” the Washington Post reported.

Seema Verma, the CMS chief who has led a calamitous federal response in long-term care that has left at least 77,000 vulnerable residents dead — 40% of all the coronavirus fatalities in the nation — and not quite a half million infected, tried to spin the commission’s findings.

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As the November elections draw near, let’s not lose sight of the flurry of developments in response to the politicization of the pandemic and the assaults by the Trump administration on medical science. Among them:

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.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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