Midland Daily News — Protecting our seniors: Midland nursing homes increase testing practices

June 20, 2020

Midland nursing homes increase testing practices

As the COVID-19 pandemic enveloped the country, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have become hot spots. In Michigan, one-third of COVID-19 deaths – more than 1,900 people – were nursing home residents.

In an effort to better monitor the situation, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order on June 15, requiring nursing homes to conduct regular testing of staff and residents for COVID-19. Nursing homes in Midland are in the process of making slight adjustments to their testing practices.

The emergency order lists the following requirements for nursing homes:

• Initial testing of all residents and staff.

• Testing of all or returning residents during intake unless they were tested within 72 hours of intake.https://dd9ec4c7a74db79176364971802a93f8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

• Testing of symptomatic residents and staff or who were expected of exposure to the virus.

• Weekly testing of staff and residents within facilities that have had positive cases among staff or residents, even if they were previously negative until 14 days after the last new positive result.

• Weekly testing of all staff in regions with medium to high risk based on the MI Safe Start Map; Midland County is currently at medium risk.

• Testing of all staff in regions 1-5 and 7 at least once between June 15 and July 3.

The emergency order also highlights MDHHS’ requirement for nursing homes to report how many suspected and confirmed cases of COVID there are among staff and residents, the number of recovered cases, any staff shortages, how many residents are in a facility, and the supply levels of personal protection equipment. This stipulation has been in effect since May 22.

Administrator sees action as necessary requirement

King’s Daughters Home Administrator Mike Kelly saw the order late Monday night and met with the management team on Tuesday to discuss a plan going forward. He described MDHHS’ directive as “a necessary requirement for us to move towards normalcy where families and residents are able to see each other.”

During the early days of the quarantine, it was difficult to obtain testing materials. Testing was performed in the building, but not on a regular basis. The staff made sure to maintain open and transparent communication with families as to what was going on at King’s Daughters Home. Efforts continue to regularly sanitize hands while staff members have their temperatures checked twice a day, masks are available at the front corner, and residents are required to wear masks when they leave their rooms.https://dd9ec4c7a74db79176364971802a93f8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Of the 59 residents and 93 staff members, none have tested positive for COVID-19 at King’s Daughters Home.

“Our clinical staff have done a great job. We’ve been very vigilant,” Kelly said.

Following the emergency order from MDHHS, King’s Daughters Home expected to submit a plan within the next

“We will test as soon as possible on a regular basis for staff and residents. I do believe the intention is to secure the safety of the residents.”

Directive is in line with what Stafford Pines has been doing

As the staff of Stratford Pines has regularly administered weekly testing to all its staff and residents since April 30, the order will not change much of the nursing home’s routine.

“It’s right in line with the testing plan we’ve been doing,” said Administrator Kevin Isbister.

Stratford Pines has followed recommendations given by the Center for Disease Control as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to Isbister. Staff and residents are monitored daily, the facility has blocked entry to visitors, staff are required to remain in their own units, high touch surfaces are sanitized and PPE is readily available. Isbister reported no shortage of testing or PPE supplies. To date, none of Stratford Pines’ 75 residents and 140 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We’re not naïve to the fact we may get it, but we’re doing everything possible,” Isbister said. “We thank families and residents for their continued patience. It’s hard for everybody, and we’re doing everything we can to get through it.”

Brittany Manor in Midland has faced issues with COVID-19 in the past. According to the state’s website on Friday afternoon, the nursing home has seen four confirmed COVID-19 cases among the residents, including one death. Two employees were diagnosed with the virus as well. Staff did not respond to messages left by the Daily News seeking comment.

Medilodge of Midland also was unavailable for public comment. According to the state website, it has no reported cases of COVID-19 nor deaths among its residents or staff as of Friday afternoon.

Lawmakers concerned about placing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes

On Friday, Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, joined a bipartisan coalition in the state House of Representatives to approve a resolution urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reverse her controversial policy of placing senior citizens who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 into nursing homes, mixing them with the most vulnerable segment of Michigan’s population – other seniors – which endangers their lives. The resolution opposing the governor’s policy passed the House 71-32 with strong bipartisan support.

“The governor’s nursing home policy defies reason and science,” Glenn said. “Despite opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike, the governor continues to needlessly put the lives of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents at risk. It is also alarming the governor not only placed sick patients into nursing homes, but the homes received $5,000 for accepting COVID-19 patients.”

Under Whitmer’s policy, nursing homes without dedicated spaces to isolate and tend to COVID-19 patients are required to send them to regional hubs – separate nursing homes that have been approved by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

A June 15 executive order by Whitmer forces these nursing home “hubs” to accept COVID-19 positive patients, “despite the obviously greater risk that doing so poses to healthy residents of those facilities,” Glenn said.

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