Long term care facilities account for more than a third of our country's pandemic fatalities.
“Nursing home residents had targets on their backs the moment the virus hit our shores,” said Mike Dark, an attorney with the nonprofit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “There is an inertia about infection control and it's too late to catch up.” The Washington Post published an article on April 17th, 2020, indicating that over 650 nursing homes across the country with publicly reported COVID-19 cases, have been found to have violated federal standards for infection control; with as many as 40% being cited on more than one occasion for breaching those standards.
According to The Washington Post on May 11, 2020, deaths related to Covid-19 in long term care facilities account for more than a third of our country's pandemic fatalities. At least 30,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. The virus so far has infected more than 153,000 at some 7,700 facilities. Iowa was reported to have 32 facilities with 1,100 cases and 14 deaths.
Nursing home populations are at high risk of being infected by, and dying from, the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Covid-19 is known to particularly lethal to older adults with underlying health conditions. Obviously, it can be spread easily through congregate facilities where many people are housed together, and workers move room to room.
Sadly, the Post article reports that since 2016, nursing homes have incurred hundreds of infractions and deficiencies due to risky practices that can encourage the spread of flu and other transmissible illnesses. Examples of control standards that have been breached have covered the spectrum of nursing home deficiencies. As reported, several facilities neglected to account for their residents with symptoms of transmissible illnesses, change used gloves, wash hands, wear appropriate PPE, and in some instances used unsanitized equipment. Such deficiencies and infractions would certainly result in the rapid spread of Covid-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed society on a global scale and changed the landscape of healthcare as we have known it. Long term care facilities must do everything possible to protect their patients from this terrible virus by eliminating risky infection spreading behavior. This includes testing, tracking, isolation, and strict infectious disease control procedures.
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