Open Texas Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers
Open Texas Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers
We are petitioning to insist, for mercy's sake, that you find some way to allow families access to their loved ones in long term care facilities. The Phase 1 re-opening guidelines are a baby step that would have been logical and acceptable had it happened one month into the lockdown, not five.
This is not only about the aging adults with disabilities, Parkinson's, dementia, or Alzheimer's being robbed of their final weeks and months of life with their families as if they're death row inmates. It is also about the parent not allowed to see their son with a traumatic brain injury or the woman recovering from a devastating spinal cord injury not allowed to see her children.
Allow limited visitation by family members, Hospice, court appointed guardians, attorneys, and clergy provided those visitors take the same precautions the facility's non-medical staff and vendors. If that's not conservative enough, follow the example of some other states and establish provisions for specific Essential Family Caregivers.
Long term care facilities depend on outside visitors as an extra pair of hands or eyes. They spoon feed their loved one at the dining room table, calm them when they're agitated, clean rooms, do laundry, groom them, change television channels, fetch extra jello and do all those things that free up aides to help residents with sanitary and medical needs.
Also keep in mind the following:
1. Title II ADA violation - Incapacitated residents, residents with dementia or Alzheimer's have unequal protect from abuse and neglect as those with the ability to report physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse, They don't know if a meal tray was overlooked and they didn't eat, that there is urine in their wheelchair, or that the pain in their back is untreated bed sores. They rely on outsiders to assess their living conditions and remedy deficiencies.
2. Statute gives certain responsibilities to and requires reporting from a court-appointed guardian over an incapacitated person include overseeing the well-being of the ward and making sure the nursing home is doing its due diligence. Locking guardians out makes the nursing home the ad-hoc guardian and watchers over themselves.
3. Since incapacitated people with dementia and Alzheimer's are unable to use or understand the phone or technology, they are being denied equal access to family members that those residents who CAN make phone calls, skype, text, zoom, facetime, and wave at windows are being allowed. This is a another clear ADA violation.
4. End of life comfort care is BEING DENIED. No hospice. What in the name of mercy makes anyone think denying non-medical hospice aides is a good idea? These aides are there for end-of-life comfort care. While an argument could be made that they carry the disease from one nursing home to the next, the argument is moot if there is no Covid-19 in the facilities they visit. They are no more dangerous than the janitors or launderers who circulate in the community and then come to work.
5. Long term care facilities are strictly interpreting "compassion visit" to mean a day or hours before death and the "failure to thrive" provision in the Phase 1 re-opening guidelines only offer family members when a loved one's health and life are in danger from the isolation protocol IF that loved one lives in the right location: a Phase 1 approved facility. All others failing to thrive must continue in their endangered state until that point when they are actively dying and then a compassion visit is granted the family, but it is too late to show compassion to the long term care resident.
6. Aging adults, severely autistic adults, blind and deaf adults, adults with traumatic spinal or brain injuries, and dementia and Alzheimer's patients who have no choice but to live in a facility with 24/7 skilled nursing are the ONLY POPULATION in the country other than prison inmates who have been forced into isolation and forced into quarantine. This is clear discrimination based on their age and physical disability.
7. Flu and pneumonia deaths in people aged 65 and older have killed at least six to nine times as many people in each of the last four years as all the nursing home deaths this year and we never locked people in nursing homes for their own safety. And that's even WITH a vaccine. If Covid-19 does not go away, do skilled nursing residents stay locked away forever? Flu deaths:
- 2019-2020 = To Date is 8377, 50-64 age group is 1563, and 65+ age group is 6168.
- 2018-2019 = Total is 10,020, 50-64 age group is 1702, and 65+ age group is 7594.
- 2017-2018 = Total is 11,917, 50-64 age group is 2014, and 65+ age group is 9121.
- 2016-2017 = Total is 10,955, 50-65 age group is 1831, and 65+ age group is 8404.
8. Long term care staff continue to circulate in large venues, concerts, sports events, gymnasiums, restaurants, grocery stores, large protests, and then return to work. They have no choice but to live with spouses and kids who work and go to school and must also circulate in the community. It is naïve to think we can wait until this is a Covid-free world or there is a vaccine to take steps to give this vulnerable population back their statutory, moral and ethical rights. Too many people have already spent their final weeks and months alone. Too many more will do the same because they do not have the several more months that Texas HHSC said on Friday, August 7th are ahead.