The latest release of AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that both cases and deaths in nursing homes declined in the four weeks ending March 2021. Although these rates are improving, chronic problems in nursing homes—revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic—continue. In Louisiana, during the four weeks ending March 21, 31.7% of nursing homes reported a shortage of nurses or aides, down from 32.4% the previous reporting period.
Deaths of nursing home residents in Louisiana significantly decreased, dropping from 183 to 64. New infections among residents and staff also declined. Resident cases fell from 643 to 80 and staff cases fell from 584 to 153.
"The good news is COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes are finally on the decline, and facilities continue providing vaccines to both residents and staff,” said Denise Bottcher, AARP Louisiana State Director."But we cannot breathe a real sigh of relief until the chronic, ongoing problems in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, such as staffing shortages, transparency, accountability, and poor infection control have been resolved."
AARP Louisiana continues to fight for reforms to protect nursing home residents and ensure long-term care facilities provide high-quality care. Specifically, AARP Louisiana urges Louisiana lawmakers to:
• Enact or make permanent the components of AARP's five-point plan:
o Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as for inspectors and any visitors.
o Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
o Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
o Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
o Reject immunity and hold long-term care facilities accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.
The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus' infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, to identify specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.
The complete Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP's advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.
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