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Vaccinations are underway at Michigan’s long-term care facilities. Data from CVS show the pharmacy had distributed over 20,000 doses as of Friday.

Walgreens doesn’t provide the same state-level data, but says it expects to administer all first doses for those residents and staff who want them by January 25.

GUNDULA VOGEL / PIXABAY

Chronic issues in Michigan’s long-term care facilities were deepened in 2020 by the pandemic.

Public health measures often had the unintended consequence of forcing residents into isolation and loneliness. National studies show those conditions can have negative health impacts on older adults, and in some cases bring on an earlier death.

ADOBE STOCK

More than 5,000 long-term care facilities in Michigan are expected to receive the Moderna vaccine from either CVS Pharmacy or Walgreens in the coming weeks, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Through a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pharmacy chains will set up three vaccination clinics at each enrolled site over a 12-week period.

HALFPOINT / ADOBE STOCK

At first, Dakima Jackson wanted to be a dentist. But, to support herself while studying, she got a job at an adult foster care home, and quickly “fell in love with working with seniors.”

She changed career paths, and for her next job, moved to another type of facility: a nursing home.

“Working at the nursing home, I was … just eager to spread myself around,” she said. “I decided that I would work at assisted living as well, because I wanted to know the difference.”

During the week she clocked into the nursing home. Weekends she spent at the assisted living facility.

JOEL SAGET / AFP via GETTY IMAGES

Appearing before the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic last week, state health department director Robert Gordon said that residents and staff in long-term care facilities would be one of the first groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. 

Many nursing homes will be receiving their doses free of charge from a large pharmacy chain, through a program organized by the CDC.

GEORG ARTHUR PFLUEGER / UNSPLASH

People with loved ones in long-term care facilities are making the most out of this year's incomplete Thanksgiving gatherings.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance this week urging that residents stay in their facilities to avoid coronavirus infection. Many residents will be confined to their rooms.

COURTESY OF TORY KAMERLING

Mari Esther Sheets is more powerful than she seems. The cancer and stroke survivor is 55. She lives at Samaritas, a nursing home in Grand Rapids. And because she’s so young — and aware — she can speak up for other residents in the facility.

Tory Kamerling, her boyfriend, describes her as an advocate.

The couple spoke with Michigan Radio’s Will Callan about being apart during COVID-19, and what it was like when the virus overran the facility.

MICHIGAN.GOV

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law Thursday that will give people more information about COVID-19’s impact on nursing homes. 

Starting November 15, the law requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to post weekly reports with information such as current visitation policies and the number of new cases and deaths among residents and staff. 

 

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is increasing how much information it shares with the public about long-term care facilities and COVID-19. 

Previously, MDHHS only published case and death counts for skilled nursing facilities. The new reports, to be published every Monday, will also include licensed adult foster facilities (AFCs) with 13 or more residents, and licensed homes for the aged (HFAs). 

gretchen whitmer and joneigh khaldun at podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bills into law Thursday that show Democrats and Republicans can find room to cooperate on the state’s response to COVID-19.

The bills are the result of bipartisan deal-making. They offer employers more protection from lawsuits and employees more guarantees they can’t be forced to work in situations that could place their health in danger.

Pixabay

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued an order to allow more in-person visits with people in nursing homes.

The order applies to facilities in counties the state has identified as “low risk.”

nurse holding stethoscope checking heartbeat of elder patient
Rawpixel.com

 

Once again, a major strike involving as many as 1,000 metro Detroit nursing home workers appears to have been averted at the last minute, and is now expected to include just 60 or so employees at a single nursing home. 

That’s because tentative agreements were reached with at least two nursing home chains over the weekend, ahead of the strike planned for Monday.

 

RAWPIXEL

Researchers at the University of Michigan say nursing homes might respond better to a second surge of COVID-19 if they have strong formal relationships with local hospitals and health officials. 

A new study looks at how three nursing homes in Washtenaw County responded to COVID-19 outbreaks in April.

 

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
michigan.gov

Today on Stateside, what we’ve learned about the accused conspirators in what prosecutors call a terrorist plot against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other state leaders. Also, families separated by the coronavirus pandemic get some relief as the state begins loosening restrictions on nursing home visits.

GUNDULA VOGEL / PIXABAY

In August, during a drive-through parade at the Medilodge of St. Clair nursing home, Jane Ogden jumped from her idling car, popped open a beer, and rushed it to a wheelchair-bound man in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. “Drink it quickly,” she said, “or they might take it away from you.” 

She squeezed her dad’s arm and made to return to the car. Ogden ran into a nurse, who mildly reprimanded her. But she felt, after months of lockdown, that her dad needed the excitement. 

 

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is tweaking how the state decides which nursing facilities can safely accept recovering COVID-19 patients. 

Under an executive order issued on Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will replace regional hub facilities with “care and recovery centers.”

 

The two are essentially the same.

 

Both of them — recovery centers and regional hubs — are isolation wings within nursing homes where residents with COVID-19 can recover. Both are supposed to be able to accept COVID patients from long-term care facilities that aren’t able to set up an isolation wing, or from hospitals, when patients can’t safely return to the facility where they live.

 

METRON OF CEDAR SPRINGS

Visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities will ease up slightly on September 15. 

An order from the state health department will allow certain skilled nursing facilities, homes for the aged, and other long-term care facilities to hold outdoor visits for their residents, while maintaining safety measures such as distancing and mask-wearing requirements. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan will allow more families to visit loved ones in nursing homes and other residential facilities.

The state imposed restrictions on nursing home visits to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan's nursing homes. About a third of the state's coronavirus fatalities have been among people in long-term care facilities.   

LESTER GRAHAM / MICHIGAN RADIO

The Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic heard testimony Wednesday on recommendations issued last week by the state’s nursing home task force.

State lawmakers spent about an hour questioning Henry Ford Health System’s Dr. Betty Chu, who co-chaired the nursing home task force, about the report. 

 

RAWPIXEL

For the second week in a row, a comprehensive report has been released recommending how Michigan’s health department could better manage COVID-19 in nursing homes. 

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

With the end of a 30-day contract negotiation period with nursing home operators nearing, a group of a few dozen nursing home workers, health care employees, and union leaders rallied in Detroit on Monday, both to call attention to ongoing labor disputes and to encourage workers to vote in November. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are out with new nursing home legislation a day after a task force delivered its own recommendations for the industry.

Michigan’s nursing homes have been hard hit by COVID-19. Residents in care facilities account for about a third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths.

GUNDULA VOGEL / PIXABAY

A task force charged with recommending how nursing homes should manage COVID-19 in the event of a second wave submitted its report to Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week.

nurse holding stethoscope checking heartbeat of elder patient
Rawpixel.com

Michigan’s Attorney General is warning the operators of senior living facilities against charging a special COVID-19 fee.

This week, the attorney general’s office sent out cease and desist notices to eleven senior facilities after receiving nearly 40 complaints from residents and family members about a special $900 fee.

The U.S. Justice Department is asking for data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from Michigan and other states.

The agency says it’s evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan

More than a thousand nursing home workers from more than a dozen facilities in the Detroit area will not go on strike today as planned, their union announced suddenly this morning, after Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked nursing home operators and union leaders to engage in “good faith” negotiations over the next 30 days. 

 

Eddie Griffith / Flickr

 

Some 1,600 workers from 18 Detroit-area nursing homes will go on an all-day, all-shifts, indefinite strike on August 17 to demand an end to what they say are “poverty wages,” inadequate personal protective equipment, and dangerously low levels of staffing, according to the union SEIU Healthcare Michigan.

More than 2,000 nursing home residents and 22 staff members have been killed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to state data.

Pixabay

Today on Stateside, a conversation with two Black farmers about the causes and consequences of systemic racism in the agriculture industry. Also, an update from the Michigan Radio newsroom on what we know about COVID infections in nursing homes.

UNSPLASH

All but one of Michigan’s 21 regional hubs for nursing home patients recovering from COVID-19  have been cited for an infection-control deficiency in the last four years, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Four of those facilities were cited for infection-control violations that occurred in the weeks just before the state designated them as hubs. 

 

MICHIGAN.GOV

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a bill that would have had serious implications for nursing home residents recovering from COVID-19. 

Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Charter Township) was the bill’s sponsor. He’s says that the governor’s policy of placing recovering COVID patients in so-called regional hubs has resulted in loss of lives. 

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