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vaccination for covid-19 in nursing homes

Older Adults in Illinois Long-Term Care Settings Should Be Vaccinated with Sense of Urgency

It’s been nearly three months since COVID-19 vaccines have been made available for Illinois nursing home residents and staff, making them a priority in the long line of vaccine recipients across the state. Officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) say approximately 414,900 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for Illinois long-term care facilities. A total of 361,971 vaccines have been administered to residents and staff as of Mar. 21, 2021.

Unfortunately, Chicago’s WGN9 reports that Illinois’ largest skilled nursing facility, City View Multicare Center, located at 5825 West Cermak Road in Cicero, has not made it a priority to have residents and staff vaccinated. Employees of the facility, and SEIU Healthcare, one of the fastest-growing union of nursing home workers in the Midwest, says management failed to enroll in the federal program designed to partner skilled nursing facilities like City View with major pharmacies to vaccinate residents and staff to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and outbreaks.

nursing homes understaffed for covid-19

Warnings Emerge After COVID-19 Outbreak Caused by New Variant of Virus is Detected in Kentucky Nursing Home

The public has been informed of several new variants of the coronavirus for some time, including some of the more known viruses circulating, such as the UK variant, the Brazil variant, or the South Africa variant. But on Mar. 16, 2021, a recent outbreak of COVID-19 involving 41 cases at a nursing home in Eastern Kentucky could be what health officials say was triggered by an entirely new strain. The outbreak involved 14 staff and 27 residents, with several testing positive for the new variant. Health officials in Kentucky say those nursing home residents and staff who have contracted the virus and have been fully vaccinated have not gotten seriously ill and have significantly reduced symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says viruses constantly change through mutation, and “new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear.” At other times, new variants emerge and persist and can be just as dangerous as the initial strain.

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COVID-19 Vaccines Are Showing Improvement in Illinois Nursing Home Infections

Finally, as more and more vaccines are being distributed by CVS Health and Walgreens and now received by Illinois’ most vulnerable residents against the coronavirus, the majority of the state’s 1,800 long-term care sites have now completed their first round of shots. The CDC reported on a sample of 11,460 skilled-nursing sites that while 77.8% of residents had received a dose, only 37.5% of employees received their first dose. The low number could prove to be problematic and related to inadequate worker training and education.

Nursing home residents, rehabilitation patients, and those dependents on assisted living services account for nearly half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. The Illinois Department of Public Health recorded only 861 new cases and 85 fatalities among residents during the week ending Friday, Feb. 18. That was the lowest weekly death tally for Illinois long-term care facilities since October.

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2021 Justice in Aging Guide Identifies 25 Ongoing Nursing Home Problems

State-licensed elder care and rehabilitation centers in Illinois may include assisted living facilities, and residential or personal care homes. Unfortunately, hundreds of investigations into these facilities continue to reveal these 25 repetitive problems noted by the Justice in Aging. The organization’s newly published 2021 list points to issues related to relaxed oversight and understaffing workforces, preventable resident injuries, painful and unnecessary evictions, Medicaid complications, dangerous patient abuse and neglect, and irreversible tragedies for families.

Problem #1: Providing Less Care to Medicaid-eligible Residents

nursing home stimulus payment theft

Nursing Homes Do Not Have a Right to Resident Stimulus Funds

Unfortunately, financial abuse is a common problem in nursing homes across the country, including right here in Illinois. And after thousands of reports to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), we now know that some nursing home facilities and long-term care homes are attempting to take pandemic stimulus payments intended for residents. Residents who rely on Medicaid remain easy and effortless targets even though these facilities have no right to claim residents’ stimulus checks.

The FTC said in a January 4, 2021 statement:

questions about covid-19 vaccine

Common Questions and Answers About COVID-19 Vaccines for Illinois Nursing Home Families

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), consistent with federal agency standards, recommends residents of long-term care facilities be included among those offered the first supply of COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for residents of long-term care facilities has been occurring in Phase 1A since the distribution began on December 28, 2020. The state has been using the federal government’s nursing home and long-term care vaccination program alongside Walgreens and CVS pharmacies in charge of administering the vaccine to residents.

The state health agency reports Phase 1A is still underway and about 41% of 850,000 health care workers and nursing home residents have received at least one inoculation and nearly 12% getting both doses so far.

end of infinity health care strike

Chicago-Area Nursing Home Workers Ask For New Contract and Agree To ‘Tentatively’ End Strike

Much like hospital staff, Illinois nursing home employees have been working under complicated circumstances as the coronavirus continues to spread. So, it comes with no surprise that after requests for a safer workplace had stalled since June, an estimated 700 care workers from Infinity Healthcare Management walked off the job in late November, prompting a 12-day strike. The employees, who have been facing extreme workplace challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the greater Chicago-area, say they deserve significant wage increases equal to other nursing homes. The workers asked for a $2 an hour bump in pay and COVID hazard pay for all employees working at a facility with positive residents without attendance requirements, and also a guarantee for tools and resources such as personal protection equipment (PPE).

The nursing home workers and SEIU Healthcare Illinois union leaders announced on Friday, December 4th, that they had reached a possible agreement with Infinity leaders. The new ‘tentative’ agreement, according to SEIU, calls for a new three-year contract which includes:

advocating for nursing homes

Please Continue to Advocate for Nursing Home Residents

During these difficult times, it remains vital for patients and their families to understand that nursing home residents still have the right to proper care. And providers should always be held accountable when that care goes badly wrong.

The “Safe to Work Act” was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. The Act is designed to provide an escape route for nursing homes if negligent care and harmful abuse harms or kills nursing home residents. This immunity would extend for five years and apply to all harm to nursing home residents.

selecting a nursing home in 2020

Transitioning A Loved One Into a Nursing Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Nursing homes and assisted living centers should offer a safe place for your loved one, whether he or she is your parent, a family member, or a friend who needs guided rehabilitation or to make a senior care facility their future residency. It is normal for you to have questions and be concerned as a quarter of all nursing home residents will experience abuse during their residency and the coronavirus pandemic has brutally targeted the elderly nursing home population.

As you begin your research, schedule a virtual tour of a facility, or speak with an administrator, review these questions to guide your learning about the home’s staffing, environment, and infectious disease outbreaks.

covid-19 pandemic highlights
U.S. nursing home residents, totaling 1.2 million seniors and nonelderly people with disabilities living in over 15,000 facilities, are at increased risk of coronavirus infection and complications. The combined challenges of the facility setting and shared living environment, residents with underlying health conditions, the close contact that many care workers have with residents, and failures in facilities who do not provide quality care, all contribute to the high number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the elder communities.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), as of August 7, 20202:

  • More than 25,000 cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to nursing home residents and staff, resulting in 4,162 deaths.
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