At least 7,300 people living in long-term care have died in the COVID-19 outbreak, a survey of state records by ABC News found. The actual count is very likely far higher, advocates for seniors believe, in part because the available data only covers 19 states where governors' offices and state departments of health have kept track. Other states do not yet report this data and did not reply to requests for this information.
Nursing homes, where many elderly and vulnerable patients live in close quarters, have been identified by state and local health officials as potential hot spots where the virus can easily spread.
Since the first nursing home case in Kirkland, Washington, at least 150 skilled nursing facilities in more than half the states have at least one resident with COVID-19, according to data that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released March 23 and not updated.
Across the Country
- In New Jersey, where 1,655 have died in 413 long-term care facilities, nursing homes appear to be quickly overwhelmed. Gov. Phil Murphy said the disease "ignites" in nursing homes. (ABC News)
- Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said 700 of the more than 7,600 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state have been residents at nursing homes and long-term care and residential facilities.
- The Illinois Department of Public Health shared how widespread the coronavirus has become in the state’s nursing homes, with at least 272 deaths and nearly 3,300 cases of the virus reported by officials.
- ArchCare, which runs five nursing homes in the New York area, has been forced to outfit staff members in rain ponchos and beautician gowns to stretch their dwindling supply of protective gear, according to Scott LaRue, president and CEO of the company, which is affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York. Employees are given one N95 mask — meant to be single-use — to last an entire week. More than 200 of ArchCare's 1,700 nursing home residents are infected with the coronavirus, and more than 20 have died, LaRue said. At least 10 staff members are also infected, with one in the hospital on a ventilator.
- "It is just indescribable what we are asking of nursing home workers at this moment in time,” Rob Baril, president of the Service Employees International Union of New EnglandBaril says more than 700 union workers have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are self-isolating, and two union nursing home workers have died. The new numbers come as Baril says more than half of Connecticut’s 215 nursing homes have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
- By the middle of March, the CEO at the Cobble Hill Health Center, a 360-bed facility in an upscale section of Brooklyn, began sending increasingly alarmed emails about banning visitors, screening staff, confining residents, wiping down all surfaces, and having all-hands-on-deck meetings to prepare everyone for the coming coronavirus freight train. "I'll be darned if I'm not going to do everything in my power to protect them," Donny Tuchman wrote before things got worse. More than 100 staffers, nearly a third of the workforce, went out sick. Those left began wearing garbage bags because of a shortage of protective gear. Not a single resident has been able to get tested for the virus to this day.
- “The grim reality is that for the elderly, COVID-19 is almost a perfect killing machine,”Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living told CNN. “In our facilities the average age is 84, and everyone has underlying medical conditions. So, when you combine those factors together, we are dealing with perhaps the greatest challenge that we ever have had."
And Yet - She Volunteered…
At the Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, Ontario an executive emailed registered practical nurse Meghann Burley, asking if she would take temporary leave and help her former employer, Bobcaygeon’s Pinecrest Nursing Home, where at least 28 residents have died from COVID.
Burley thought about the request for a day, then said yes. “It made sense, logically,” she said, “because unlike so many other health-care workers, I do not have children or older family members living in my home.”
She returned to the home in late March, working afternoon and morning shifts, dressed in goggles, masks, a face shield and gloves.
“I’ve only been there for a week and it is emotionally exhausting,” she said. “I can’t imagine how the girls who have been there since the start are feeling.”
God Bless You All