State government responsible
As a retired, 11-year employee of a local senior living complex, I find much of the information about the infections and deaths in nursing homes misleading. I was very troubled to read that the Attorney General is investigating deaths in nursing homes as if there has been a crime committed by these facilities. Are all nursing homes top notch?
No they are not. All you have to do is look at the annual survey results by the Department of Health to know this. Every year a team of three to five inspectors spends three to five days in each facility making sure they are up to standard.
I know from experience the team in our area is extremely thorough and take their jobs very seriously. Citations can be as important as failure to follow procedures on passing medicines to storing your oatmeal boxes in the wrong cupboard.
Nursing homes are among the most regulated entities in the country.
After saying that, I am appalled by the lack of assistance rendered by the Department of Health and state government during this pandemic.
As soon as the first case of COVID-19 was found at the Manor Care in Jersey Shore, a team from the DOH should have been dispatched to assist the facility in trying to prevent its spread.
That team should have reviewed their infection control procedures, educated administration and staff on best practices and facilitated isolation of anyone infected. Instead families are saying they cannot even get the DOH to respond to complaints. To me this is a gross failure of what the government is supposed to do — guarding the health and safety of its citizens.
Inspections of facilities are all well and good but how does that help the situation we are facing right now?
Why, may I ask, has the National Guard not been used to assist facilities with screening their staff to be sure they are healthy?
As it is right now, facility staff are putting in extra hours screening each shift as they come in.
Nursing homes have a challenge to fully staff their facilities to properly care for residents. Every available hand should be providing care.
There is no reason the Guard or Reserve medical units could not be utilized to help our most vulnerable citizens.
If you think for one moment that the staff of a nursing home watching the people they care for (and yes, love) get sick and die is not gut wrenching for them, you are very, very wrong.
Especially when guidelines have been handed down that families cannot be with them while they are dying. I know that families of residents feel helpless and frustrated.
It is frightening to think of a parent or spouse isolated and in danger, but please keep in mind that the people caring for your loved ones absolutely do not want them to catch a very serious illness that may end their lives.
I know that the lawyers are lining up, salivating over the money they will make taking advantage of this tragedy by convincing people that facilities are derelict in their duty, but the caretakers are only human, and there are only so many of them.
A virus can run through a facility at an alarming rate, no matter how hard you fight it.
Everyone working in long-term care is hoping this is over soon.
The staff are working hard to make up for the lack of visitors, entertainment, activities and socialization. It is very hard on everyone.