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Bill presented to the House Committee that would require separate facilities for COVID positive nursing home patients

Posted at 4:46 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 16:46:20-04

LANSING, Mich. — A bill making its way through Lansing would prevent COVID-19 patients from being placed in nursing homes.

It's already been passed by the state Senate, and was heard Wednesday in a House Committee.

The President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Michigan weighed in on the bill.

“I don’t think the bill is necessary. I think all this can be done outside of legislation,” Healthcare Association of Michigan President and CEO Melissa Samuel said.

The bill passed in the state Senate earlier this month, brought on by Senator Peter Lucido of Shelby Township. It would require nursing homes not admit COVID-19 positive patients, instead, creating isolated facilities for those who are positive to be moved to for care.

“I think ideally if we have the capability to do that, it’s a good option,”

As things currently stand, the president of HCAM says as resources currently stand, they don't have a way to provide those locations.

“I don’t think there’s any one-bullet answer to this either. It’s a concept that again, I think is a good option if we have enough time and if we have enough resources behind it,” Samuel said.

She also mentions the challenges of moving patients.

“You don’t want to have to move patients long distances. There’s definitely issues, with, we refer to it as transfer trauma,” Samuel said.

Nursing homes have been a common place for the spread of COVID-19. Currently, their residents account for about one-third of the state's total deaths.

Senator Lucido says his bill is a way to keep those most vulnerable communities safe. State Representative Leslie Love says the requirements and timeline it would impost on facilities is "irresponsible."

“September 1, 2020, a lot of things happen according to this document, that’s really impractical, impossible, and irresponsible if we were to move this forward,” State Representative Leslie Love said.

Love says as written, the bill imposes both creating and presenting a plan for the centralized facilities, and have them ready to operate on the same day.

“This is problematic. It is irresponsible for us to move forward in this form,” Love said.

Samuel says, they want to help Michigan's residents in long-term care facilities, but feel a new law could be problematic when attempting to make changes down the line, given the fluidity of the pandemic.

She also says the concept is one they've already been implementing.

“The concept of isolated, or dedicated only building, is something that we had advanced early on when COVID was just presenting in Michigan,” Samuel said.

This has also become a political issue, with Republican leaders blaming the governor for the deaths in nursing homes, saying she forced them to accept COVID-19 positive patients.

Governor Whitmer says that's simply not true, and that the state only followed CDC guidelines to allow nursing home residents to return to an isolated area once leaving the hospital.

The bill is still making its way through the house.