Reform our failed long-term-care system

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as nursing homes have proven. They’ve accounted for a quarter of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths.

That’s 26,000 lives lost so far.

With their medically fragile residents, nursing homes are familiar with death. But making things worse are outdated facilities, weak regulation and oversight, miserly reimbursement rates, and staffers who are poorly trained, underpaid and overworked. Fixing this mess won’t happen overnight. But there is something we can do right now: Insist that all nursing homes have a detailed emergency plan, including what to do during apandemic. Many don’t.

A study by ProPublica found that between November 2017 and March 2020, ‘6,599 facilities, equal to about 43% of the country’s nursing homes’ were in violation of federal disaster-plan rules in place since 2016.

We must do better. Please tell your representatives in Congress it’s time to demand reform and transformation of our failed longterm care system. That could be you, suffering in the next bed.

Judith B. Clinco, R.N., B.S.