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Nursing Homes Failing To Separate COVID-19 Patients From Others

covid 19 nursing home deaths

Dozens of nursing homes and hospitals have failed to separate COVID-19 patients from those who don’t have the virus, according to a Kaiser Health News investigation.

A July National Nurses United survey of over 21,000 nurses found that 32% of nurses lack a dedicated COVID-19 unit in their workplace. COVID-19 had reached every U.S. county except 17 counties by that time, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Health inspectors observed COVID-positive patients as well as others mingling in a day room while waiting for test results at New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus in late April. The center had already reported 119 COVID-19 inspections and 46 COVID-19-related deaths at the time, according to a Medicare inspection report.

An inspection report shows that an Iowa nursing home’s assistant director insisted on April 28 that they did “not have any COVID in the building,” overriding doctor’s orders to isolate patients with fevers and falling levels of oxygen. That facility had 61 patients with the virus and nine dead by mid-May, according to the facility’s COVID-19 log.

A resident at Oregon Healthcare, an Ohio nursing home, displayed a fever on April 28 but wasn’t moved into isolation until May 7, according to the Ohio Capital Journal. The man was tested for COVID-19 on May 1 but, despite protocol, wasn’t placed into isolation and wasn’t given a mask. His test results came back positive on May 6 but he wasn’t placed in isolation until the next day.

Maryland’s health department fined Pleasant View, a Maryland nursing home, $70,000 for failing to isolate new patients or separate COVID-19 positive patients from COVID-19 negative patients.

State inspectors found that conditions at Pleasant View constituted “immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of residents,” according to inspection reports. Inspectors found a resident who tested negative for COVID-19 was moved to an area of the building where COVID-19 positive residents lived. Nursing assistants were assigned to work in rooms with positive and negative patients in the same day. Understaffing allowed a newly admitted patient, who later tested positive, to wander around the building without a mask.

Inspectors found that Fair Havens Center, a Florida nursing home, placed 11 roommates of COVID-19 positive patients in rooms with other residents. Records show that Medicare fined the home $235,000 and Florida regulators stopped admissions to the nursing home.

Medicare officials discovered that staffers at Pearl Valley Rehabilitation and Care Center in Iowa were in denial that COVID-19 was in their facility. A nursing director overrode a doctor’s orders to isolate residents or send them to the ER and the assistant nursing director kept COVID-19 patients in the facility.

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