The Kaiser Family Foundation says residents of nursing homes are highly vulnerable to COVID because older people are at a higher risk of dying from it. People who suffer from chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and respiratory disease are particularly vulnerable, “groups strongly represented among residents of nursing homes”.
The foundation says this is “a major reason why nearly a quarter of COVID-19 deaths in the United States have occurred among residents and staff of long-term care facilities representing more than 200,000 victims of the pandemic”, and that “a number of conditions in nursing homes can exacerbate the spread of the disease.
These conditions include employees working in multiple facilities, residents sharing rooms, transfers of residents from hospitals and other facilities, and shortages of personal protective equipment.
Any potential exposure of care home residents to a highly contagious and, for them, life-threatening disease, increases the chances of them dying. This is why these facilities have been closed as much as they could be during the pandemic to protect their very vulnerable residents.
Wikipedia says the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan source of facts and analysis, polls and journalism, has been praised for having “the most up-to-date and accurate information on health policy” and as ” a must-read on health care. ”
Local, state and federal lawmakers have been inundated with complaints from parents who could not access loved ones in nursing homes and assisted living facilities during the height of the pandemic. State Senator Rusty Crowe of Johnson City and State Representative Rebecca Alexander of Jonesborough decided to try to do something about it in Tennessee.
They sponsored legislation, now approved by the state senate, that would require family members to be allowed to visit relatives at such a facility, whether a disaster or other emergency, even a public health, has been declared. Their intention is remarkable, their legislative initiative senseless.
The thing is, we don’t know what might happen. What if a new disease arrives, even more contagious and deadly than COVID?
Are we going to kill every resident of every nursing home in Tennessee because they can’t close the doors and keep them closed? We now know that instead of shutting down the economy with its disastrous results, we should have acted to further protect the very vulnerable from COVID.
This legislation requires those who access these facilities under its mandates to follow safety protocols, but we cannot know now which protocols will be effective during a future pandemic. If this legislation passes the State House, the governor would have to veto it. Don’t tie the hands of those charged with protecting us in an emergency until we know what it is.