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More Needs to be Done to Protect Seniors

Published on May 3rd, 2020

Many of the nursing homes in South Carolina (and nationwide) that are having problems recognizing and containing the spread of COVID-19 have a history of problems with infection control, short-staffing, and mismanagement.  DHEC reports that  72 nursing facilities across South Carolina have at least one confirmed case of COVID- 19.  In total, there are suspected of thousands of cases but only about 600 cases and 50 deaths so far have been confirmed.

The top five confirmed COVID-19 hot spots at nursing homes in  South Carolina. According to Medicare, the top five nursing home COVID-19 hot spots are all rated below average. Three are considered “much below average,” with one-star ratings.

Forty-five national and state organizations, including Consumer Voice, signed on to a letter that was sent to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator.  The letter advocates for better protections for nursing home residents and better support of residents’ ability to make decisions about their health care and place of residence.

The organizations call for immediate action by CMS and make six recommendations, including:

  1. Requiring immediate full disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks by nursing facilities.
  2. Setting higher standards for the necessary staff, training, and equipment to care for residents with COVID-19 and those without.
  3. Increasing staff assistance to facilitate communication between residents and their families.
  4. Requiring facilities and states to work collaboratively with residents and their families when making transfers designed to “cohort” residents with others who also are COVID-positive or COVID-negative.
  5. Guaranteeing a resident’s right to return to the facility, if desired, and facilitating access to Medicaid home and community-based services.
  6. Protecting resident access to Medicaid by requiring all federally-certified facilities to be 100% Medicaid-certified during this emergency.

Read the full letter.

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