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Whitmer administrator challenges pending nursing home death report | Health, Medicine and Fitness

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By DAVID EGGERT – Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has challenged the methodology and findings of a pending report that is expected to say there have been nearly 30% of coronavirus-related deaths in addition to homes nursing and other long-term care facilities in Michigan as reported by the state health department.

Auditors plan to publish their review next week. But to a rare extent, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has sought to publicly anticipate it by questioning how the data was compiled.

In a letter written Sunday and published Wednesday, Elizabeth Hertel referred to “serious concerns” at the state’s auditor general – including with her plan to combine deaths from COVID-19 at facilities subject to the requirements state or federal government reporting and those that are not. That would add 1,036 deaths to the 5,675 long-term care facilities reported in early July, nearly half of the 1,700 more deaths to be disclosed.

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Hertel also said auditors would define reportable deaths differently from a federal standard. They count residents who were released before their deaths, including those who have recovered from COVID-19 and returned home or been to the hospice. Also added are residents who were hospitalized for a non-viral reason such as a fall but were infected in hospital, and residents who lived in independent or assisted living residences who share a campus with a nursing home, she declared.

“To state that long-term care facilities that did not report deaths in the above categories are just plain inaccurate,” Hertel wrote.

She also questioned the use by auditors of a disease surveillance system to help count deaths, citing limitations and saying it was not a reliable way to verify whether a death should be counted as a death in a long-term care facility.

The state is requiring nursing homes, as well as adult homes and homes for the aged licensed to serve at least 13 residents, to report deaths and cases of COVID-19. Thousands of small adult homes and institutions for the elderly are exempt. The same goes for autonomous and assisted living communities.

The review was conducted at the behest of a Republican lawmaker who in part asked that it consider “all” deaths in long-term care facilities. Representative Steve Johnson of Wayland said the “undercoverage” was “significant and shocking”.

“This was important information to collect for those across our state who have loved ones and relatives in nursing homes and who are afraid, and sadly for those who have lost friends and family to it. of COVID-19 while inside a nursing home or other long-term care facilities. Johnson said, saying the House Oversight Committee would continue to investigate.

GOP lawmakers criticized the Democratic governor for allowing hospitalized virus-infected patients no longer in need of acute care, but still in quarantine, to return to designated units in nursing homes, as some hospitals have been shut down. faced with an increase in cases at the onset of the pandemic.

There is no evidence that the policy led to infections. Whitmer said he was following federal guidelines.

Almost a year ago in New York, then governor. Andrew Cuomo’s administration was forced to recognize a significant undercoverage of deceased nursing home residents, as it only counted those who died on facility grounds, not later in hospital . Michigan understands both.

Long-term care facilities have reported the deaths of 6,216 infected residents and 93 staff to the state during the pandemic. They represent 22% of Michigan’s more than 28,200 confirmed deaths.

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