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Not Just COVID
More than 100,000 nursing home care residents have died because of the pandemic. However, tens of thousands of residents died of neglect during the pandemic. These deaths by neglect are collateral damage. Advocates claim overburdened caregivers are unable to provide the care needed to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of the residents.
Data from the country’s 15,000 facilities show that for every two COVID-19 victims, there is another who died prematurely of neglect. Those “excess deaths” beyond the normal rate of fatalities in nursing homes could total more than 40,000.
Industry watchdogs are flooded with complaints of neglect from shot-staffing. For example, residents kept in soiled diapers so wounds develop; development of pressure injuries; preventable falls; and kidney failure from dehydration.
“The healthcare system operates kind of on the edge, just on the margin, so that if there’s a crisis, we can’t cope,” said Stephen Kaye, a professor at the Institute on Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco. “There are not enough people to look after the nursing home residents.”
Chronic understaffing at nursing homes is a well-known systemic problem. In 20 states, federal data shows nearly 1 in 4 nursing homes report staff shortages.
LeadingAge represents not-for-profit long-term care facilities. They admit staffing issues are real but blames failure to provide more stimulus money to help pay for more workers.
“These incidents, stemming from the challenges being faced by too many committed and caring nursing home providers during this pandemic, are horrific and heartbreaking,” said Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge’s president. “I hope that these tragedies will wake up politicians and the public.”
If the nursing hoe industry gets additional bailout funds, I hope it goes to the frontline workers and not the corporate managers.
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