Page 17 - Senior Times South Central Michigan August 2020 - 27-08
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From The
Senior Times - August 2020
Page 17
     STATE SENATE
THE YELLOW TRUCK PEOPLE
 CALL US
 State Senator, John Bizon, M.D., District 19
KEEPING SENIORS SAFE - SB 956
I wanted to share my thoughts on the state of nursing homes dealing with COVID-19. This topic is near and dear to my heart. We have lost community members at nursing homes across the state, and my heart breaks for their families.
and Human Services and the Whitmer administration to release important nursing facility data – including
data regarding deaths – related to how COVID-19 was affecting these facilities.
When COVID-19 first began to appear in the United States, one of the few things we knew about the disease among the many unknowns was that it was much more dangerous for the elderly than for any other population group.
According to the data, more than 1,900 deaths from COVID-19 had occurred to that point in nursing homes. This is more than a third of all Michigan deaths from the disease, but even this number may very well be underreported, since it does not include other long-term care facilities, such as homes for the aged, facilities that house seniors and the disabled, and other assisted living centers.
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  That is one reason that on March 13, 2020, the national Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued
the document “Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nursing Homes.” The document provided a plan for states to follow when trying to con- trol outbreaks of coronavirus in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Recently my colleague Sen. Peter J. Lucido introduced a bill to prohibit the transfer of people who have COVID-19 into the state’s long-term care facil- ities. The bill also would require the establishment of a dedicated facility in each health care region of the state to help take care of individuals while they recuperate before returning to a nursing home upon testing negative.
                                      CMS understands that nursing homes are not hospitals, and they are not designed to provide the type of care necessary for COVID-19 patients. And with a vulnerable population, nursing homes certainly are not an appropriate place to house patients with the disease.
As a practicing physician for more than 40 years and as the current chair of the Senate Families, Seniors, and Veterans Committee, I wholeheartedly support Senate Bill 956, which will enable infected patients to be isolated from the at-risk elderly populations and minimize exposure to staff at facilities with elderly populations.
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   Just over a month later, on April
15, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-50, requiring cer- tain nursing homes to care for COVID- 19-affected residents – despite the risk to other nursing home residents.
We cannot undo the damage that
has already been done. But we should do all we can to help prevent further needless deaths. The bill passed in the Michigan Senate and is scheduled to be up for a vote by the House.
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After her executive order in mid- April, several requests were made to the Michigan Department of Health
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