It’s calling for regular testing to help curb the spread of this virus.
Frederick, Md (KM) A large number of COVID-19 infections have occurred in nursing homes, assisted living and long term care facilities, and Tammy Bresnahan, Director of Advocacy for AARP in Maryland, calls it “a tragedy.” “It is hart to believe that our most vulnerable population are in places where they;re trying to get the best of care have been the ones who’ve succumbed to this most dreadful disease,” she says.
Bresnahan says what makes it just as bad is families of residents can’t get information on how their relatives are doing. “There was a woman whose mother was in a facility, and she was at least trying to see her loved-one through the window and the shades were drawn. There wasn’t any way to contact the facility,” she says. “This really is tragic for our families, especially if they have family members in there.”
Bresnahan says nursing homes need to be more pro-active when it comes to curbing the COVID-19 virus. “They must be transparent with it to the families,” she says. “They need to make sure that they have regular testing, personal protective equipment for residents and staff. That they report daily on COVID-19 cases and deaths.”
And nursing homes need to be held accountable. “Some nursing homes want immunity. And we believe they need to be held accountable,” Bresnahan says. “If they’re not held accountable, things won’t change.”
And Bresnahan says there must be more contact between nursing home residents and their families on the outside. “We’re asking that they try to have some kind of connectivity with the family, whether it’s virtual. If they can at least call and get some kind of update,” she says. “It’s not only important for the families outside, but it’s also important for the residents that they know that their families care about them.”
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long term care facilities have been closed to the public because of the coronavirus.
The Maryland Department of Health is allowing limited outside visits to nursing homes from family members, and small gatherings Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner says nursing homes and other similar facilities can allow these types of visits if they’ve not had any COVID-19 cases for 14 days, and must attest that to the local health department. She says one local facility, St. Joseph’s Place in Emmitsburg, has met those requirements, and is submitting the paperwork to the Frederick County Health Department
Governor Larry Hogan has also gotten in front of this issue, but Bresnahan says more needs to be done. “He has been out in front on this issue, devising the Strike Force and the Bridge Teams. But we do think they can do better. The facilities can do better,” she says.
Recently, Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy was fined $70,000 by the state for not properly isolating newly admitted residents for two weeks in May to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus infected 126 residents and staff members, and caused 29 deaths.
If you have a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, uncle, aunt or other relative in a nursing home and you can’t get any information on them, AARP urges you contact the local ombudsman with the Maryland Department of Aging. In Frederick County, the number to call is 301-600-2877; the number in Washington County is 301-790-0275. In Carroll County, citizens can call 410-386-3800; Howard County’s ombudsman can be reached at 410-313-6423. In Montgomery County, the number to call is 240-777-369.
Citizens can also call Maryland Department of Health, Office of Health Care Quality at 410-402-8015, or 1-877-402-8218.
By Kevin McManus