Several Republican lawmakers grilled Michigan’s Democrat governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for her executive order requiring nursing homes at less than 80% of capacity to create dedicated units for COVID-19-affected residents.
The April order also mandated that those providers take in new patients as long as they had appropriate personal protection equipment for workers.
A revised order was issued in late May and now requires providers to make “all reasonable efforts” to create units dedicated to residents with the disease; provide appropriate PPE to staff working in those units; and not accept coronavirus patients unless they have dedicated isolation units for those patients.
“Why did it take you so long to change the policy?” Rep. Tim Wahberg asked during a Tuesday hearing held by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. There have been more than 1,650 nursing home deaths in Michigan — the fifth-highest per capita in the nation, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Whitmer told lawmakers that providers weren’t required to accept COVID-19 patients and that the revision was to note that only facilities that can safely separate positive patients are allowed to take them in.
The governor said “in retrospect [there were] probably a number of decisions we would have made some adjustment on.”
“We have taken efforts to ensure that if a resident after being discharged with COVID-19 diagnosis was going back to a nursing home, that they are separated, that the protocols are very strict,” she added.
Whitmer isn’t the only governor who has been publicly questioned over nursing home pandemic decision-making.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma last week criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for his decree that providers accept COVID-19 patients after he claimed the move was inline with federal directives. Cuomo backtracked on that policy last week.