AARP AARP States North Dakota Advocacy

Working to Keep Long-Term Care Residents Safe from COVID-19

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In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, AARP North Dakota gathered information through a questionnaire to help older people and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent it from spreading to others. A summary of the results can be found here:
N.D. COVID-19 Survey Results Updated.pdf

AARP North Dakota’s advocacy work has focused on three areas:

  • helping older people and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent it from spreading to others;
  • urging state officials to be transparent about the number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths in long-term care (LTC) facilities; and
  • ensuring residents in LTC facilities have access to the technology and devices needed to facilitate virtual visitation between residents and their families in order to decrease social isolation.

Below you’ll find a summary of the state and federal policies that AARP North Dakota has been advocating for on behalf of older North Dakotans.

State Advocacy
On Nov. 16 we submitted a Letter to Governor Burgum urging the state to do more to protect long-term care residents and staff from the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In October, the AARP Nursing Home Dashboard was released along with our statement that North Dakota needs to do better to protect North Dakotan's living in nursing homes. It was clear from the data that more needs to be done to shore up staffing and infection control in our long-term care facilities to protect nursing home residents and staff. This AARP dashboard shows alarming trends in preventing infections and deaths. The dashboard is updated once per month focusing on nursing home deaths, number of staff COVID-19 positive cases, number of resident COVID-19 positive cases , staff shortages and access to PPE. You can see the monthly nursing home dashboards here:

October  
November
December

In August, we sent a letter to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to comment on the critical issue addressed in the proposals to find creative solutions to ensure residents in LTC (Long-Term Care) facilities remain connected to family and friends as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

On June 1, letters were sent to the ND legislature with updates on our advocacy on behalf of nursing home residents and family members, urging the state to take action related to increased transparency of reported cases in long-term care facilities and support for virtual visitation until it is safe to resume in-person visits.

Here is the statement AARP North Dakota released on May 28 regarding in-person visitation, virtual visitation and transparency. AARP ND Statement on Nursing Home Visitation.pdf

Here are copies of letters AARP has sent to Gov. Doug Burgum and the N.D. Department of Human Services beginning in March.

Our March 25 letter focuses on the need for virtual visitation between facility residents and family members: March 25 Letter to Gov. Burgum.pdf

Our April 6 letter concerns the steps the state is taking to prevent COVID-19 from entering long-term care facilities: April 6 Letter to Gov. Burgum.pdf

Our April 28 letter addresses concerns around several nursing home issues, including transparency: April 28 Letter to Gov. Burgum.pdf

Finally, a May 11 letter to the Executive Director of the N.D. Department of Human Services reiterating our requests for transparency and virtual visitation: May 11 Letter to ND Dept. of Human Services.pdf

Federal Advocacy
AARP North Dakota participated in a nationwide “virtual” lobby week in May with federal lawmakers. The focus of our federal advocacy work is focused on nursing home protections and supports, including virtual visitation enhancements and the supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and its role in addressing growing food insecurity and hunger issues.

This document outlines urgent Congressional action requested by AARP to protect residents of nursing homes and other long term care facilities: Urging Congressional Action.pdf

This map shows how AARP is fighting to protect vulnerable seniors in nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities from sickness, neglect and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic:Nursing Home Advocacy Map 4-24.pdf

This document outlines 6 questions you should be asking if you have a loved one residing in a long-term care facility: 6 Questions for Nursing Homes.pdf

Events
On July 10 Renae Moch from Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health and Desi Fleming from Fargo Cass Public Health participated in a panel discussion to provide an overview of local coronavirus testing efforts, provide context for how contact tracing works on a local level and its importance to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to also talk about steps you can take to make healthy decisions to best protect yourself. You can watch a recording here.

On July 1 we hosted a telephone town hall on preventing the spread of COVID-19 with Molly Howell, Immunization Program Manager with the ND Department of Health. Listen to a recording here.

On May 6, AARP held a telephone town hall with Gov. Burgum on COVID-19 long-term care issues. You can listen to it here.

On April 24 State Director Josh Askvig and Advocacy Director Janelle Moos gave a live update on the advocacy work AARP North Dakota has been doing around the pandemic, especially to protect those most at risk. You can watch the 20-minute video here.

Resources
Here are links to sites that outline the number of positive COVID-19 cases in long term care facilities and the steps the state have taken to protect vulnerable adults, especially residents of nursing homes and other facilities:

Staying in Touch with Long-Term Care Residents

Preparing Caregivers for COVID-19

6 Questions to Ask if You have a Loved One in a Nursing Home

North Dakota Coronavirus Cases, including Long-Term Care Facilities

North Dakota's Vulnerable Population Protection Plan

State Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities

North Dakota Covid-19 Resources

AARP Coronavirus Resources

Long-Term Care Resident Voting Guide

Weekly Telephone Town Hall: AARP is holding a weekly telephone town hall every Thursday at 12 p.m. CDT to address issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. To join the call, dial toll-free 855-274-9507.

About AARP North Dakota
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.