Above, News 8 political reporter Rick Albin speaks one-on-one with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about the new nursing home rules and other state responses to coronavirus.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revised rules related to the care of Michigan nursing home residents with the coronavirus, saying they should be sent to facilities with solid federal staffing ratings.
Currently, infected residents from homes without a dedicated COVID-19 unit go to one of 21 state-designated “hub” nursing homes when they leave the hospital or when they need a higher level of care but not hospitalization. Under an order issued late Wednesday, they instead will be transferred to “care and recovery” centers that will replace the hub network.
A nursing home, including a hub home, can be a care and recovery facility only if it meets certain standards outlined in a new policy bulletin issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services. The facility has to have a staffing rating of at least three out of five stars, for instance, and cannot have an abuse or neglect citation. At least one will be in each of Michigan’s eight emergency preparedness regions.
At least six of the current hub homes would not meet the minimum criteria outlined in the policy, said state spokesman Bob Wheaton.
The Democratic governor did not, as Republican lawmakers have proposed, establish facilities or buildings solely to house those recovering from the virus. She also lifted a ban on communal dining to improve residents’ well-being, instead requiring that dining and group activities be consistent with federal and state guidance.
A month ago, a Whitmer-created task force recommended that hospitals not discharge patients with COVID-19 to their nursing home if they have less than 72 hours in their overall isolation period. If that is not an option, the panel said, then the hub program should be changed to ensure consideration is given to a home’s quality and inspection history before it becomes a care and recovery center with a wing, unit or building to care for infected residents.
The governor said her order follows the recommendation.
Nursing home residents account for 2,154, or 30%, of the state’s 7,083 confirmed or probable deaths related to the virus.
A confirmed death is one where COVID-19 is listed as the cause, a person has a confirmed infection and dies, or dies within 30 days of infection and the manner of death is listed as natural. A probable death is one where COVID is indicated on the death certificate but there was no positive test.