The New York Times had an article about A deadly fungus in nursing homes. Candida auris is a highly contagious, drug-resistant deadly fungus. It has infected nearly 800 people in the last four years, with half of patients dying within 90 days. C. auris is a germ so virulent and hard to eradicate that some facilities will not accept patients with it.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York who leads the nonprofit Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. She warned: “You’ll never protect hospital patients until the nursing homes are forced to clean up.”
“They are the dark underbelly of drug-resistant infection,” said Dr. Tom Chiller referring to nursing homes. He heads the fungal division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WHY NURSING HOMES
Nursing homes are a dangerously weak link in the health care system. Most are understaffed and ill-equipped to prevent and control infection. Drug-resistant germs thrive in poorly ventilated settings with poor infection control. Resistant germs can move from bed to bed, or from patient to family or staff, and then to hospitals and the public because of lax hygiene and poor staffing.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found that patients and residents in long-term care settings have alarmingly high rates of drug-resistant colonization. This means they unknowingly carry the germs on their skin or in their bodies and may pass them to staff members.
The New York State Department of Health found that many facilities are failing to take basic measures, such as using disposable gowns and latex gloves, or to post warning signs outside the rooms of infected patients. At one unnamed facility, it said, “hand sanitizers were completely absent.”
“It is impossible for them to do a good job with the way their staffing is,” said Dr. Mary Hayden. She is a professor at Rush Medical College who studies the rise of drug-resistant infections in health care. She added: “The way they’re set up, they can’t do it.”