By Virginia MacDonald
The Alabama Nursing Home Association opposes a decision by Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson to place patients who are recovering from COVID-19 in nursing homes.
“The bottom line is for the past month, we have been doing everything that we can to prevent COVID-19 from entering nursing homes,” said John Matson, spokesman for the nursing home association.
“Now, Dr. Wilson wants nursing homes to accept patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 even though they still exhibit symptoms and have not fully recovered. That decision goes against sound medical advice.
“Just last week, the American Medical Directors Association issued guidance stating that nursing homes should not admit a COVID-19 patient until the patient has two negative tests, which is a test-based strategy according to the Centers for Disease Control,” Matson said.
Wilson’s letter advocates the release of patients to nursing homes under a non-test-based strategy, which encompasses patients who are fever-free and have had respiratory improvements if it has been seven days since the patient’s symptoms first appeared.
Wilson said in his letter that he endorses the non-test based strategy because of the limited about of testing supplies and capacity.
“Wilson’s decision places nursing home residents, those vulnerable to COVID-19, in great danger,” Matson said.
Wilson also stated in his letter that the pandemic “has posed multiple challenges to our healthcare system. Chief among those challenges is the possibility that our hospitals will not have the capacity to care for a large number of patients infected with COVID-19, and the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care facilities that house our most vulnerable patients.”
Matson said Wilson did not cite an example.
“While the health officer is concerned about the capacity of local hospitals to meet the demands posed by the COVID-19 crisis, he does not cite a single example of a local hospital that is currently experiencing a capacity problem.
“Our nursing homes are being stretched to the breaking point and not one penny of the money allocated by the federal government to fight this virus has made its way to a nursing home,” Matson said. “Our nursing homes need resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19, not orders from government officials to bring this horrible virus into the very place where our most vulnerable citizens live.”