Business of Medicine

Paige Pfleger / Side Effects Public Media

Across the Midwest and the nation, many COVID-19 cases have been concentrated in nursing homes. It’s often the result of an outbreak. But sometimes, it’s actually by design. 

Indiana To Release COVID-19 Data From Individual Nursing Homes

Jul 2, 2020
Brock Turner/ WFIU/WTIU News

After months of declining to release COVID-19 data from individual long-term care facilities, Indiana is building a public database of the information. It plans to release the data later this month.

All of Indiana’s neighboring states, and a growing number of states across the country, have made similar data public. But so far, Indiana has only released statewide totals for COVID-19 cases and deaths at these facilities.

Treva Steele visited her father every day after he moved to Greenwood Healthcare Center in Greenwood, Indiana, in February. Joe Barton, who was 73, was recovering from open heart surgery and on a ventilator.   

Courtesy of Lenore Williams

This is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Nearly half of Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities. Twenty-three-year-old Aubrey Baker is a qualified medication aid at Wildwood Healthcare Center, a nursing facility in Indianapolis. Her mother, Lenore Williams, oversees the center. They spoke to reporter Lauren Bavis about how the virus has impacted their work, and how it hit close to home. 

Courtesy of Marvin Miles

Marvin Miles got a call from his mother on March 27. She had started rehabilitation about a month earlier at Bethany Pointe Health Campus, a skilled nursing facility in Anderson, Indiana. They had spoken almost daily since then, but this call was concerning because it came at 1:35 a.m. 

“She was complaining about she couldn't breathe, and she had been pressing the nurses’ button for over an hour and no one would come in there,” Miles says.

Lindsey Reed / Oaknoll Retirement Residence

The elderly are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. The country’s first big outbreak was at a nursing home in Washington state, and more recently nursing homes and senior living facilities in places like Indiana, Illinois and Iowa have had experienced dozens of cases -- and deaths. Now, these places are facing a lot of pressure to keep residents safe -- and occupied. 

Lindsey Moon / Side Effects Public Media

Iowa is among the states with the fewest COVID-19 cases, but it still has over 175 confirmed cases and the total increases every day. The state’s hospitals, large and small, face a common problem as they get ready for a possible spike in patients: finding enough equipment.

flickr/niaid/CC BY 2.0

A new Illinois statute aims to boost flu shot rates among healthcare workers by making it harder for employees to decline the vaccine.

Lawmakers say this is important in light of last year’s flu season that killed more people than car crashes and drug overdoses. But some on the frontlines of public health worry that a law that’s not enforced will have little effect.

1,400 Nursing Homes Get Lower Medicare Ratings Because Of Staffing Concerns

Jul 30, 2018
Photo by Matt Sawyers is licensed under CC0. https://pixabay.com/en/senior-healthcare-home-medical-care-599806/

Medicare has lowered its star ratings for staffing levels in 1 in 11 of the nation’s nursing homes — almost 1,400 of them — because they either had inadequate numbers of registered nurses or failed to provide payroll data that proved they had the required nursing coverage, federal records released last week show.

Medicare only recently began collecting and publishing payroll data on the staffing of nursing homes as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, rather than relying as it had before on the nursing homes’ own unverified reports.

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