Saturday, October 1

Blame the virus, not nursing homes for residents’ deaths in a pandemic


Dr David Gifford

The USA TODAY series “Dying for Care” does not help potential residents and their family members identify appropriate long-term care settings as intended.

The series focuses on a narrow time period of the pandemic during the US COVID surges in the fall of 2020 – a time when cases were rampant throughout the general population, deaths were at their height, and widespread availability of vaccines and treatments did not yet exist. Perhaps most important in regard to nursing homes during this time, providers were pleading with public health officials for resources to help protect their residents and staff, such as testing, personal protective equipment and staffing support, but little aid was provided.

Much has changed since this timeframe, including the distribution of lifesaving vaccines and more readily available supplies, making long-term care facilities much safer. Nearly 90% of nursing home residents are now fully vaccinated, protecting hundreds of thousands from the latest omicron surge when infected residents were four times less likely to succumb to the virus.


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