American health policy expert talks Michigan nursing homes, elder care

Seema Verma is the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Trump. 

FOX 2: You held a town hall virtually here today on nursing homes.  Why?

"It was important for me to come to Detroit," Verma said. "The president has always had a very strong focus on seniors and protecting our vulnerable citizens. And he wanted us to come to the front lines and hear from the people who have been working day in and day out to decrease those numbers, call been on the front lines in nursing homes don't understand the challenges that they face and what works and how to take those best practices to the rest of the country. 

"We know that Texas, Florida and some of the other areas of the country are having issues and we wanted to take some of the great work that did happen in Michigan and bring those learnings to other parts of the country."

FOX 2: Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she followed the CDC guidelines, allowing patients who had Covid to be in the same area as others. Would you change anything?

"One of the things that we have seen in terms of best practices across the country is that having separate facilities may actually work better than to have covered positive facilities," Verma said. "It's important for local and state officials to identify a location that we can take care of people. Some people may have to be in a hospital, they may not be sick enough or they may be released or they may be recovering and they are still positive. So we need to have a place that can accommodate their needs and it's important for state and local officials do identify those locations."

RELATED: Gov. Whitmer says COVID-19 nursing home policy was best guidance at the time

 FOX 2: What are some of the things you found about nursing homes and what they are dealing with?
"I think the other really important other lessons is about paying attention to the mental health of nursing home residents. This is been an extremely difficult time for them and their families to be separated, to not be able to visit, to be isolated even in the nursing homes. We heard some good stories today but have they been doing virtual visits and I think that is also a very important thing. The president that only wants to protect our vulnerable citizens but we want to make sure that they have the best quality of life."