Bloomberg reported that the nursing home industry is not blameless for the losses caused by COVID-19. Research gave the industry a false sense of immunity. The early research allowed the industry to argue that Covid deaths weren’t its fault. Industry apologists and lobbyists insisted nursing homes were not responsible.
“It’s been said that blame is a person’s way of making sense of chaos,” wrote New York nursing home lobbyist Stephen Hanse in an op-ed in the Buffalo News in May. “Outbreaks of Covid-19 are not the result of inattentiveness or shortcomings in long-term care facilities.”
However, new research and data prove this is simply not true. Strong evidence proves that nursing homes aren’t just blameless victims. The industry has poor infection control training, inadequate staffing, and insufficient safety supplies. The industry has consistently lobbied against stricter safety rules, best practices, and cutting safe staffing. All of which caused or accelerated outbreaks.
“Most homes weren’t prepared to manage these patients,” says Michael Wasserman, an expert geriatrician.
Although early research seemed to support that nursing homes could not prevent outbreaks, new data proves that systemic problems have made the coronavirus worse than it needed to be.
For example, industry groups lobbied the White House to ease safety rules that would have required each facility to hire a dedicated infection prevention expert. Trump froze the safety rule. Therefore, nursing homes postponed hiring these experts prior to the pandemic.
“Failure to have this position fully implemented has proven to be a costly mistake,” says Debra Fey, an infection prevention nurse and consultant for the long-term-care industry.
We know the virus is spread mostly through the air rather than on surfaces. However, the failure to disinfect rooms is a major misstep, according to infection-control experts.
“It’s a very big deal,” says Dolly Greene, chief executive officer of Infection Prevention & Control Resources, which trains nursing home workers. “The environment can be a source of transmission.”
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