COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — More than 6,000 residents of nursing homes have tested positive for COVI9-19 and more than 1,400 have died according to the Ohio Department of Health.
As nursing homes ease their restrictions, there are still a lot of questions and concerns for family members who aren’t able to go inside.
“Once it is in the facility and someone tests positive, we believe it travels fast because it’s in a tight facility,” said Melanie Amato of the Ohio Department of Health.
It’s the reason nursing homes had to close their doors to the public when COVID-19 became a pandemic and why residents and their families’ lives were changed dramatically.
“Many families do a great job when they are visiting assisting. They may help mom open the package or even holding the fork, really assisting mom when she’s not able to.”
The state’s Ombudsman Beverly Laubert says she has gotten a number of calls from families concerned about their parents’ well-being, from not wearing proper PPE, to not having enough staff for enrichment and basic human interaction.
“When the families weren’t helping anymore, they were very concerned when they didn’t increase staff to fill the gaps that the family left.” Which, Laubert says nursing homes should be doing. “With the extra time it takes to put on and take off PPE and administering medications they should really try to increase their staff to make sure its level.”
Laubert says the average time a staff member spends with a resident is about 2 and a half hours per day. There is no regulation on how many people can come into work or how many residents they care for but getting enough healthy people to come in has been a challenge. It has led to delays in phone calls and questions over what’s going on inside.
“We need to have good communication. Facilities should be going overboard with communications to set peoples’ minds at ease.”
As outdoor visitation begins nursing homes continue to get more cases. The Ohio Department of Health starting tracking cases back in April and only in recent weeks were able to do widespread testing at facilities.
“Now we have the capability to test everybody in the nursing home so that’s why we think we’re seeing the cases jumping in those nursing homes.”
While restrictions have been tough on family members, the Department of Health is asking for your trust.
“The state isn’t hiding anything. We know that this is a vulnerable population. We know that this virus and disease can travel fast. So, we are doing everything in our power to make sure those people are protected to stop the disease and make sure they have the right resources to protect it,” Amato said.
If you have questions or concerns about your loved one’s facility contact the states ombudsman’s office at 614-644-7922(O) or learn more at www.ombudsman.ohio.gov
For a full list of COVID-19 cases inside of nursing homes go to https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/long-term-care-facilities/cases