AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows good and bad news. Across the U.S., the AARP dashboard shows a very uneven level of vaccination among nursing home workers.
The good news is that in areas with high vaccination rates and vaccine mandates, the nursing home residents are thriving. The bad news is places with low vaccination rates have increased deaths. Nationally, more than half of health care staff in nursing homes are now vaccinated in every state. That is just not good enough. The industry promised 75% participation months ago.
Places like Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan all have significant increases because of the inconsistent vaccination rates, and lack of mandates. As a result, the vulnerable residents of nursing homes continue to suffer.
Paula Cunningham as the AARP Michigan State Director said:
“The increase in deaths among nursing home residents is a grim reminder that this pandemic is far from over. All staff and residents of long-term care facilities must be vaccinated against coronavirus to prevent more heartbreaking losses as we head into winter.”
A popular federal rule will require caregivers to get shots at hospitals and nursing homes if funded by Medicaid and Medicare dollars. Providers must get as many residents and staff members vaccinated as possible before another winter surge.
Meanwhile, clinical specialists, infection prevention experts, and telemedicine are key to caring for a higher-acuity population among skilled nursing facilities. Dr. Madhu Murthy, a board-certified infectious disease specialist, is president and CEO of nodMD. He reportedly warned:
“One of the most common complications with COVID-19 has been pneumonia and respiratory failure. What you’ve seen is a trend in the higher acuity of patients, especially managing respiratory failure, requiring let’s say mechanical ventilation, like with a BiPAP or CPAP, and also obviously airway care.”
The need for specialists to handle high acuity residents will determine the quality of care in the future. The quality of care depends on the competency of the caregivers.