Michigan families address lawmakers during COVID hearing on nursing homes

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Posted at 7:44 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 22:21:31-05

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s House Oversight Committee is looking into the negative impacts of COVID shutdowns when it comes to nursing homes, patients and their families.

Lawmakers met Thursday morning after hearing from their constituents. They’ve been wondering if what’s happening in New York, with the hiding of nursing home deaths, is happening here.

READ MORE: NY undercounted nursing home deaths by thousands, AG says

Michigan and New York were two of five states that put COVID patients in nursing homes, according to lawmakers.

The committee also heard from families who’ve been impacted by nursing home closures, including Karen Lynema of Jenison.

Her mother, Pat Vander Weide, is at St. Ann’s in Grand Rapids. The 77-year-old has been there since 2019.

Her daughter talked about the struggles with visits, isolation and loneliness, and the facility shutting down for two weeks every time there’s another positive test.

“The decision to have a loved one go to a facility is usually not made lightly; most often the level of care needed is more than what can be provided at home by family and friends. There are some resources to assist with home care but not enough,” said Lynema.

Lynema says her mother is still doing well, and she’ll visit her tomorrow.

“When my sister and I visited our mom on Christmas Day by the glass door at the end of her hall, it was 21 degrees and blowing snow. Our loved ones are mainly in his or her room 24 hours a day other than a shower time, or if someone comes to visit, they can come out of their room,” she said.

Following Thursday’s meeting the oversight committee sent a public letter to MDHHS asking the agency for better data on numbers and to lift restrictions so families can visit their loved ones.


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