Kansas Nursing Homes are in Crisis; Residents and Staff Continue to Be at Risk
The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including in Kansas. In the four-week period ending December 20, more than half of all Kansas nursing homes reported residents with confirmed cases of coronavirus, and nearly 87% had a minimum of one staff member diagnosed.
The rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Kansas nursing homes have increased exponentially in the last six months. From June 2020 to December 2020, nursing homes reported that:
· New confirmed cases among residents increased from 0.8 to 18.1 per 100 residents.
· Deaths among residents increased to 3.31 per 100 residents, up from 0.24 in June.
· New confirmed cases among staff increased from 1.0 to 15.8 per 100 residents.
“Sadly, in the past seven months, more than 1,000 nursing home residents have died from Covid-19, nearly half of all Covid-19 deaths in Kansas,” said Maren Turner, AARP Kansas State Director. “Almost a year into the pandemic, nursing home residents and staff remain trapped in a petri dish, nearly defenseless against coronavirus.
“While vaccines will not make nursing home residents safe overnight, this dashboard underscores the urgency of vaccinating residents and staff as quickly as possible.
“Also, given the dismal numbers our state has seen for the past six months and that nearly all nursing homes reported staff infections in the last month and most reported resident cases, it is alarming that long term care facilities would once again be asking for immunity from liability when they should be focused on identifying best practices and improving outcomes for residents and staff. AARP Kansas urges facilities and the state to work to better protect residents.”
While personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages have decreased beginning in August, inadequate staffing remains a huge concern, with nearly 50% of the nursing homes in Kansas reporting a shortage of nurses or aides during each of the last four months, up from 30% reporting staffing shortages in June.
Turner added, “The continuing coronavirus crisis in nursing homes also spotlights the life-and-death need for fundamental reforms.”
AARP continues to urge elected officials to act immediately, focusing this year on:
- Rejecting any proposals which would include immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.
- Prioritizing regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
- Improving transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
- Ensuring access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
- Ensuring quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates such as long-term care Ombudsmen.
The AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Earlier this year, AARP fought for public reporting of nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.
The full COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.