Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new executive order directing nursing homes on how to care for COVID-19 patients. The orders looks eerily similar to New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s advisory requiring elderly people with positive COVID-19 diagnosis be readmitted to nursing facilities.
Whitmer’s own Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon sounded the alarm on the new executive order and the inaccurate measurements of COVID-19 related deaths emerging from Michigan nursing homes.
During a Michigan Senate Oversight Committee hearing, Gordon said he does not believe Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer when she reported 687 nursing home deaths via COVID-19. Gordon claims the number is an “undercount.”
“That number is COVID related deaths that have been reported, I do not stand behind that number as an accurate and full accounting of COVID related nursing home deaths and I wouldn’t want us to present it that way… I think that number is probably, in fact, I’m confident that number is an undercount,” Gordon said.
Across the United States, nursing homes and assisted living facilities account for 42 percent of COVID-19 deaths. It is impossible to tell the percentage of nursing home deaths in the state as Michigan is among eight other states that do not record deaths by residential category, according to the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP).
Fortunately, one state with near-identical policies gives us insight into the disaster coming for Michigan’s most vulnerable communities.
On March 25, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a controversial advisory demanding hospitals discharge elderly patients with COVID-19 back to nursing homes. The advisory was built to combat alleged “discrimination” of those with COVID-19.
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [nursing homes] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” the advisory reads.
Whitmer mimicked New York’s advisory to combat alleged discrimination and insisted a long-term care facility cannot prohibit readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 testing results.
“A long-term care facility must not prohibit admission or readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 testing requirements or results in a manner that is inconsistent with this order,” Whitmer’s new executive order reads.
In her new executive order, Whitmer also instituted the creation of “regional hubs” for COVID-19 affected residents. These are designated nursing homes that will act as a conglomerate for other nursing homes that do not provide a designated COVID-19 unit. Some nursing homes will rid their facilities of COVID-19 patients, while others create a full-blown hub.
“If the long-term care facility does not have a dedicated unit, it must attempt to transfer the COVID-19-affected resident to a regional hub, an alternate care facility with physical and operational capacity to care for the resident, or an available swing bed at a hospital,” the order reads.
The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported state officials do not see fit to require extra inspections of nursing homes that sign on to receive COVID-19 patients as regional hub facilities. The governor’s order means care facilities with no COVID-19 patients will be treated the same as care facilities with the entire region’s conglomerate of elderly COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 has plagued nursing homes and elderly care facilities disproportionately. The virus has killed upwards of 10,500 residents in facilities nationwide or approximately one-fifth of the U.S. coronavirus death toll. Cuomo’s and Whitmer’s decisions to force nursing homes to care for COVID-19 patients are to blame for the increasing numbers and atrocity among the nation’s most vulnerable population.