Unbelievably, despite the fact that elderly people in senior care centers have been the hardest-hit demographic in the coronavirus crisis, the state of California, where Governor Gavin Newsom has instituted harsh lockdown measures, is asking assisted living facilities to house elderly patients infected with the coronavirus in exchange for money.
Patients and staff in senior care centers in California number roughly 40% of all COVID-19 deaths across the state, Mercury News reports, adding the state Department of Social Services (DSS) sent a letter to licensees of senior and adult care residential facilities last Friday offering up to $1,000 a day to take in coronavirus-stricken people. Facilities with six or fewer beds would receive an “all-inclusive rate” of $1,000 per day once the first resident is placed under the contract “in recognition of the need to fully staff the facility,” Mercury News stated. The ostensible reason is to ease the burden on hospitals needing rooms for critically ill patients. The letter reportedly stated:
There is an urgent need to provide housing and care for adult and senior care residents that, while positive for COVID-19, do not require hospitalization. In order to meet this need, the CDSS, Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD), announces an opportunity for Adult and Senior Care licensees to assist in providing additional beds by entering into contracts with the State to temporarily house COVID19-positive individuals in their facility.
The letter stated that DSS would prefer to send the coronavirus-infected people to empty facilities or places that only have infected patients already or even places where separate structures exist for infected and non-infected residents, but did not jettison the idea that infected and non-infected patients could reside in the same facility if they were “unable to locate contracted beds in facilities that would house solely COVID-19 positive residents.”
Mercury News also notes that “as of May 3, nearly 10,000 patients and staff in long-term care facilities in the state of California have tested positive for the virus, and 926 of them have died.” Those numbers were gleaned from the DSS and the California Department of Public Health.
Dr. Michael Wasserman, the president of the California Association of Long Term Medicine, said, “Any guidance from the government that opens the door to send more COVID-19 into a nursing home or assisted living facility, to me, is medically unsound … The assisted living industry is a real estate industry — it is not a health care business.”
Mike Dark, attorney for watchdog group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said the idea of housing coronavirus patients in assisted living facilities was “awful and stupid.”
Wasserman concluded, “It’s becoming clearer that the worst outbreaks — the worst situations — have occurred where the virus is allowed to grow unfettered. If you have a facility that has a couple of cases and you contain them … even in some cases where we’ve seen fairly large outbreaks and lots of good infection control is applied, we’re seeing better outcomes. So, the least amount of virus you have in your facility, the better.”
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