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ProPublica: Nursing Homes Violated Basic Health Standards, Allowing the Coronavirus to Explode

Published on April 29th, 2020

CMS first told nursing homes to prepare for the coronavirus on Feb. 6,  warning, “Every Medicare participating facility in the nation’s health care system must adhere to standards for infection prevention and control in order to provide safe, high quality care.” It has followed up with additional guidance to restrict nonessential visitors and related to the use of PPE.  Now ProPublica has once again done an incredible job of analyzing public data on nursing home and infection prevention. See article (https://www.propublica.org/article/nursing-homes-violated-basic-health-standards-allowing-the-coronavirus-to-explode?utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter)  In some states, nursing home residents account for more than half of COVID-19 deaths. The inspection records are a glimpse into the kind of mistakes that could be at the root of the widespread outbreaks occurring in these facilities.

Their keen analysis of federal inspection reports found that nine nursing homes put residents in “immediate jeopardy” for their actions and inaction in stopping the spread of COVID-19. including a case where a nursing assistant fed a resident after changing soiled briefs without washing hands. This is more common then people appreciate.

All told, there are about 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, which house about 1.3 million people. The homes offer a high level of care for those who need help with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing and getting dressed. They also offer skilled rehabilitation for patients after medical procedures or illnesses. Because Medicaid pays for a substantial share of care at the homes, and Medicare pays for some, CMS sets the standards under which they operate. Many of the homes that received immediate jeopardy citations in recent weeks related to COVID-19 have been cited in the past for violations of those rules.

Among the consistent and constant problems cited in the reports included a lack of personal protective equipment, failure to maintain social distancing among residents, inadequate staff and not acting quickly enough when residents exhibited symptoms of the disease.

Nursing home experts said oversight of facilities is critical during the COVID-19 outbreak, when most visitors are prohibited from visiting their loved ones and inspectors are likewise mostly staying away.

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