Rhode Island Nursing Homes Remain Imperiled

Posted on 02/11/21

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PROVIDENCE – The latest release of AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that the crisis in these facilities continues, despite incremental improvements in all four dashboard categories.

 From December 21 to January 17, the rate of new coronavirus cases per 100 residents declined from 15.7 to 10.6 among residents and from 12.5 to 10.6 among staff. While resident cases are lower than in the previous time period, they remain the second highest in New England in AARP's dashboard analysis, with nearly four times the cases in Rhode Island nursing homes reported in October and November.

Meanwhile, resident death rates dropped from 2.60 to 1.82  for every 100 people living in a nursing home.

Nursing home staff cases dropped from 12.5 per 100 workers to 10.6.

The dashboard reveals that PPE shortages dropped sharply. Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have declined from 20.3% of nursing homes without a one-week supply to 4.3% -- the lowest number since the first dashboard report in June, 2020. Staff shortages were relatively steady, dropping from 41.9% of facilities reporting shortages to 40%.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 162,000 residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died nationwide and nearly 1.3 million people are known to have been infected with coronavirus in these facilities. Rhode Island has recorded 1,430 deaths in skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other eldercare facilities.

AARP has been urging the Governor, the Lt. Governor and state to protect nursing home residents and staff from COVID-19.

"We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the first known coronavirus cases in nursing homes, yet they remain appallingly high, said AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell. “The devastation this pandemic has brought to nursing home residents and their families has exposed fundamental reforms that must be made in nursing homes and to the long-term care system. We cannot lower our guard.

"The Rhode Island nursing home industry in has struggled with quality care and infection control for years. AARP continues to urge elected officials to act immediately, focusing this year on:

·       Enacting or making permanent the components of AARP's five-point plan:

o   Prioritizing regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as for inspectors and any visitors.

o   Improving 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   Ensuring access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.

o   Ensuring 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.  

·       Establishing minimum nursing staffing standards.

·       Ensuring that increases in nursing homes' reimbursement rates are spent on staff pay and to improve protections for residents. 

·       Ensuring progress is made so that in-person visitation can safely occur and facilitating virtual visitation.
“Additionally, our leaders must reject policies that take away the rights of residents to hold nursing homes accountable when they fail to provide adequate care, Connell added. “Now is not the time to let nursing homes off the hook for abuse, neglect, and even death.”

AARP Rhode Island’s letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo, urging her to withdraw her nursing home immunity Executive Order. (There has been no reply)

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, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The full 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.

This story is provided by AARP Rhode Island. Visit the AARP Rhode Island page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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