A major data lag is stalling efforts to effectively support U.S. nursing homes during the pandemic, according to a new investigative report.
Weeks after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would begin tracking outbreaks and deaths in the nation’s eldercare facilities, there are no solid numbers available, writes NBC News. Federal reporting requirements announced in mid April are only now going into effect, and CMS has told states that individual facility data won’t be publicly posted until the end of May, the news outlet reported.
The reason? CMS and state officials have failed to put nursing homes at the top of the coronavirus resource priority list, said Charlene Harrington, a professor emerita of nursing at the University of California San Francisco.
“We think there is huge under-identification of the virus in nursing homes, so until they start reporting and comprehensive testing, it’s not going to work,” she told NBC.
CMS countered that it will release the information as soon as it is available, taking “swift action and publicly posting this information so all Americans have access to accurate and timely information on COVID-19 in nursing homes,” a spokesperson stated in response to NBC’s query.
Industry advocates echo Harrington’s assessment, however. “Eldercare facilities are at a ‘severe disadvantage’ identifying asymptomatic residents and staff, according to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association. He and other industry leaders have sounded a drumbeat for months, urging federal and state authorities to boost their response to the impact on facilities of all care levels. One estimate puts deaths in long-term care at 25,000.
“It is time to rally around nursing home and assisted living residents the same way we have around hospital patients and workers,” Parkinson said in late April.
The White House on April 24 announced that the long-term care industry would be given higher priority status to receive personal protection equipment and other relief from the federal government during the ongoing coronavirus health crisis.
In other coronavirus news:
AHCA develops PPE supplier list: The American Health Care Association has developed a list of personal protective equipment suppliers who have recently served long-term care providers. The list is intended to serve as a resource when PPE is not available through ordinary supply chains and will be updated as more suppliers are identified. The group cautions that current demand continues to outstrip supply, recommending that members ask suppliers when to check back about out-of-stock equipment.
Loss of smell occurs on 3rd day of COVID-19 infection, severity linked to other symptoms: The mean onset for reduction or loss in the sense of smell was 3.4 days in a recent study of 103 patients, according to a study by nose and sinuses specialists. Investigators also found that severity of the loss is tied to how bad other COVID-19 symptoms become. “If the anosmia, also known as loss of smell, is worse, the patients reported worse shortness of breath and more severe fever and cough,” said Ahmad Sedaghat, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Cincinnati.
Stroke evaluations drop by nearly 40% during COVID-19 pandemic: In a sign that many people may be forgoing needed care, a nationwide study has found that the number of people evaluated at hospitals for signs of stroke has dropped by nearly 40%. The lead investigator, a professor at Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, says he’s personally seeing patients who delay arrival: “It is absolutely heartbreaking to meet a patient who might have recovered from a stroke but, for whatever reason, waited too long to seek treatment.”