Nursing homes across the country are not only concerned with COVID-19 outbreaks inside their facilities, but the repercussions those illnesses could have on federal funding and accreditation.
The Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington faces a federal fine of more than $611,000, and could also lose Medicare and Medicaid funding if it does not correct deficiencies that led to the country’s first major outbreak of the novel coronavirus and at least 37 COVID-19 deaths.
“I'm praying that we don't get it in our building,” says Jeffrey Ravago, a certified nursing assistant at San Miguel Villa nursing home in Concord, California. “We could lose possibly 50 to 80% of the population.”
Ravago and his colleagues are screened before they go inside. Their temperatures are taken. And if they have any symptoms, they’re sent home.
They wear gloves when taking care of the residents. But Ravago says it’s impossible to practice social distancing because he has to bathe them, brush their teeth, feed them, and help the nurses give them treatments.
Ravago says they do not have enough hospital-grade masks for everyone at this point, so staff members are hand-sewing masks.
“We really need masks and gloves and wipes to take care of our patients and protect them,” he says. “And I'm scared that if we run out of gloves, what's next?”
Apart from staff, no one is allowed in or out of the building, including family members.
“They're having a lot of anxiety because they can't see their loved ones,” says Ravago about the residents. “Some of them don't know what's really going on outside of the building. The closest thing they've got to family is us.”
–Written by Kathryn Barnes, produced by Brian Hardzinski