Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is ramping up efforts to enforce Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive order that provides rules and procedures that long-term care facilities must follow to protect the health of employees and residents.
Executive Order 2020-148 outlines protections for residents at long-term care facilities, like barring their evictions for nonpayment, and lists several requirements those institutes must follow.
There are more than 4,900 long-term care facilities across the state, the AG's office said. Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities.
Facilities must cancel communal dining and group activities, implement disinfection and sanitation regimens, provide personal protection equipment to employees, inform employees of a COVID-19 positive patient and report presumed positive cases and additional data to health departments.
Willful violations of this executive order are considered a misdemeanor offense, which carry a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.
“Over the last several months, this virus has claimed more than 6,000 lives in Michigan and presented us with countless challenges that we have had to work together to overcome,” Nessel said in a press release. “My office is prepared to continue our role of enforcing the law as this virus lingers and as Michigan’s most vulnerable populations remain at risk. The measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-148 to protect those vulnerable populations and the people who care for them must be followed.”
The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division receives federal funding to investigate and prosecute alleged abuse and neglect of residents of long-term care facilities, including taking legal actions to address violations of this executive order. However, the division may only act in response to a formal complaint.
The division has been working with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to review reports of executive order violations since the orders were issued. Responses to those reports thus far have been handled through education and outreach measures, rather than the pursuit of criminal charges.
As of Monday, Michigan has recorded more than 2,000 resident deaths in long-term care facilities that have resulted from COVID-19 exposure, with around 7,800 positive COVID-19 cases emanating from people residing in those facilities. There have also been 22 deaths of staff members at long-term care facilities and more than 3,700 infected.
LARA will refer complaints it receives involving violations of the various safety protocols outlined in the executive order to the Attorney General's Health Care Fraud Division, which will review the complaint and determine whether additional steps must be taken, such as seeking more information from the facility, launching a formal investigation or taking action in the courts.
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