Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across Michigan have become a hotbed for the coronavirus as the state attempts to put safeguards in place for vulnerable and elderly residents.
As of April 24, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported 2,218 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed at 331 nursing homes across the state.
Governor signs executive order
More details are expected to be released on COVID-19 cases, including the names of the nursing homes where infections are reported. That’s after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order requiring long-term care facilities to submit daily reports on all coronavirus cases.
As of April 23, 2,977 deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in Michigan and 35,291 total cases. While comprehensive data isn’t available, the state says hundreds of nursing home residents have died. The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation says more than 5 million Americans who reside or work in long-term care facilities remain at risk.
Funds released aimed at testing and prevention
Whitmer’s order includes provisions to separate the sick from the healthy using telemedicine when possible to reduce the risk of exposure. Meantime, county health departments work to increase the number of tests for elderly residents and staff.
The state is sending $3.8 million to county health departments to help with testing, tracking those with the virus and prevention efforts at nursing homes. COVID-19 poses a dire respiratory threat to seniors, especially those with pre-existing conditions. The state says 60% of the Michigan residents who have died are 70 or older.
Assessing the physical and mental toll
While hundreds of nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 and tens of thousands remain at risk, local health departments report nursing homes across the state already suffer from staffing and equipment shortages as well as inadequate testing options.
Added to that are the emotional hardships for quarantined seniors, whose access to loved ones can only be achieved through a window or teleconferencing applications, such as FaceTime. Unfortunately, many of these seniors were already subjected to neglect and abuse due to inadequate staffing and inexcusable behavior by staff members.