Mich. task force presents recommendations to further protect nursing home residents, staff amid COVID-19

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force has presented to her its recommendations to help protect nursing home residents and staff from the virus. 

More than 2,000, or 31%, of Michigan’s coronavirus-related deaths are linked to nursing homes. The task force was due to make its recommendations by Aug. 31 on how to prepare nursing homes for a potential second wave of COVID-19.

The 28 recommendations cover four strategy areas, each represented by a workgroup: placement of residents; resource availability, staffing and quality of life. 

Recommendations include:

  • Continuing to use the regional hub program with strengthened guidance and protocols as Care and Recovery Centers.
  • Identifying and coordinating with hospitals with excess surge capacity.
  • Improving coordination of personal protective equipment distribution and allocation.
  • Securing funding for continue testing of nursing home residents.
  • Exploring options for creating dedicated facilities/alternative care settings.
  • Improving support of physical and mental health for staff.
  • Increasing opportunities for safe visitation. 

You can see the full report of the final recommendations here

The Task Force was co-chaired by Dr. Betty S. Chu, senior vice president and associate chief clinical officer/chief quality officer of Henry Ford Health System, and Roger Mali, II, owner and CEO of Mission Management Services, LLC in Troy, which specializes in skilled nursing care and senior housing management.

Many of these recommendations are reinforced by evaluations of long-term care policy conducted by independent organizations, including the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT). 

Based on interviews with clinical and policy experts as well as emerging research, CHRT presented independent recommendations regarding how to strengthen and build upon Michigan’s COVID-19 response that are also helping to inform the state’s actions. The report was funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.
CHRT reports that the regional hub strategy executed in a crisis situation was a logical and appropriate response to the surge. Although more data is needed to draw definitive conclusions, preliminary data shows:

  • No significant evidence of transmission of COVID-19 between patients admitted from hospitals to nursing home residents in hub facilities
  • Nursing home resident COVID-19 prevalence positively correlated with county COVID-19 prevalence rates for both hub and non-hub nursing homes
  • COVID-19 infection rates in nursing homes correlated with staff infection rates; this was consistent with community prevalence

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has requested nursing home data from Gov. Whitmer. The data is being requested to help inform whether the Department of Justice will initiate investigations under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

Other governors were asked to also provide data, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These states required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients, often without adequate testing. 

You can read more about the DOJ's request here