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At least two nursing homes with a high number of COVID-19 deaths violated CDC safety precautions

An elderly woman receives a nurse’s assistance.  

(The Center Square) – COVID-19 ripped through Michigan nursing home residents like wildfire in facilities found violating safety precautions, including failure to isolate COVID-19 patients or use of new personal protective equipment (PPE) between attending infected and noninfected patients.

In nursing homes located in 49 of the state’s 83 counties, state data reports no residents died of COVID-19.

But in three counties – Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne – the virus killed 1,396 residents.

For example, the Manor of Novi in Oakland County reported 41 deaths – the highest mortality within a single facility in Michigan, according to data still being validated.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says no COVID-19 patients were transferred into that facility.

Instead, internal reports obtained by The Center Square through the Freedom of Information Act show the facility “failed to institute and operationalize appropriate infection control principles” recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A litany of failures, which began on April 23, contributed to those deaths. Those failures were not identified until 22 days later.

A report reveals the staff working in the designated COVID-19 containment unit failed to don new PPE before they cared for non-COVID patients and failed to consistently screen temperatures of incoming staff and visitors.

On the morning of May 14, a resident roster review showed several confirmed COVID-19 patients “on multiple units throughout the facility, despite having a designated COVID unit.”

The same day, certified nursing aides and physical therapists were seen entering COVID and non-COVID patient rooms without sanitizing or replacing their PPE, records say.

That’s a problem because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a virus able to spread by sticking to caps, gowns, and gloves.

Four non-COVID residents lived in the designated COVID-19 unit because they were being readmitted from a hospital, records say.

Known COVID-19 positive patients weren’t moved into designated isolation containment units because, as one worker stated: ”If they were positive, we try not to move them.”

Dr. Rebecca Copf has previously testified to lawmakers that it’s hard to contain SARS-CoV-2 in a nursing home even if staff follow safety guidelines.

“Even with the new guidelines, sufficient personal protective equipment, and training, it would be very difficult to avoid cross-contamination [from staff] because of the frequent assistance required of these patients,” Copf said on July 15.

In Wayne County, Rivergate Terrace recorded 37 COVID-19 resident deaths and had 21 COVID-19 patients admitted or readmitted, according to MDHHS.

Internal documents show the facility violated safety precautions and reused PPE between isolated and non-isolated patients.

At least one worker admitted “she did not know which resident (sic) were COVID 19 and required respiratory isolation,” according to one report.

The facility’s “Immediate Jeopardy” was identified on April 10 after 10 residents died – seven at the hospital and three in the facility – “and the likelihood of further spread of infection due to improper infection control practices could lead to serious harm, injury, impairment or death,” according to a report.

These reports may shine a sliver of light on why about one-third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths were tied to nursing homes.

That number doesn’t even count all long-term care.

COVID-19 battered long-term care facilities across the nation as residents were in high-risk categories of advanced age or having preexisting conditions that compromised their immune system.

The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity estimated that nursing homes and assisted living facilities account for about 45 percent of the COVID-19 deaths across the nation.

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