One of the saddest aspects of what’s being called the “new normal” is that nursing homes are closed to visitors. It’s necessary, of course, to keep COVID-19 away from the elderly. But it is wrenching for families.
I have a friend whose mother is on the first floor of a local nursing home. He visits by standing outside her window while they chat on the phone.
He says they joke that it’s “like jail visitation.”
This lady knows she’s loved and gets to see her son often. But how many other folks — especially those with dementia — are simply alone during this pandemic?
Making matters worse, one of Virginia’s publicly funded nursing homes is now the nation’s number one hotbed of death.
Nearly one quarter of Virginia’s 208 COVID-19 deaths have come from a single place: The Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center outside of Richmond.
Nursing home officials just confirmed a 46th death yesterday. That grim number surpassed the 43 fatalities at the Life Care Center near Seattle, where the first U. S. nursing home outbreak occurred.
The New York Times, which is studying Covid-19 clusters in nursing homes around the country, says Canterbury leads the nation in nursing home deaths, noting that some of these Medicaid residents are living three-to-a-room.
That would be a recipe for disaster during the regular flu season.
New management took over the center in January and claim they’ve made improvements. Still, this is how the Associated Press describes the nursing home:
Even in normal times, Canterbury merited just one out of five stars in Medicare’s rating system, with inspection records showing the facility had such poor staffing levels that it impacted patient care.
One nurse told an inspector last year “residents would stay in bed because it is almost impossible for two people to assist 62 or 63 residents.” Previous inspections also found infection-control problems and failure to report an attempted rape of a patient.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Canterbury Rehabilitation and other Virginia nursing homes are driving up the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth. So far, 45 facilities are in the midst of outbreaks.
“A publicly funded nursing home like this is a virus’s dream,” said Dr. James Wright, medical director at Canterbury and two other Richmond-area long-term facilities that don’t rely on Medicaid funding by the federal and state governments.
Wright said publicly funded nursing homes lack money to adequately pay staff, occupy buildings with smaller rooms and living space, and house people who in many instances have “had a lifetime of poverty” that has undermined their health.
“We were simply ripe for a spread like this, like any publicly funded nursing home is,” Wright said.
Any time you have people living in close quarters — be it a barracks, aircraft carrier or college dorm — contagious diseases spread quickly.
When that confined population is older and in poor health it can become the stuff of nightmares.
And that’s what the situation at Canterbury is — a nightmare — where Virginia’s fragile and poverty stricken seniors are being picked off by this virus.
As James Sherlockreports, the conditions inside this facility are subject to oversight by the commonwealth, which has failed miserably.
In several states the National Guard has been called in to evacuate residents from nursing homes. In Virginia, however, they languish.
Here’s a thought: Instead of worrying about whether healthy Virginians are sitting on the beach or getting their hair cut, perhaps the governor should turn his full attention to the most vulnerable among us.
The low-income residents sardined into Medicaid-funded nursing homes.
Sadly, it’s too late for 46 of them.There are currently no comments highlighted.