BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The pandemic has some families taking loved ones out of nursing care facilities and assisted living centers and bringing them back home. But is this safe?
We talked to an expert about the risks.
“Because that's the big issue. People don't know what's happening with their loved one,” stated Lindsay Heckler, supervising attorney, Center for Elder Law & Justice, Buffalo.
The latest numbers from the New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) indicated a more than 500 percent jump in cases at nursing facilities and a more than 1,000 percent increase in deaths since March 26th.
“I can't say whether or not people should take out their loved one. It's really an individualized personalized choice and people have to consider the risk involved with that,” Heckler explained.
There are a number of factors you should consider before taking a loved one out of a nursing home or assisted living. Safety and proper care are the big issues.
“Are there home care workers available? Can they get a hospital bed if needed? They have to help arrange with other services, like food delivery, medications. There's a lot of factors involved with that,” Heckler said. “Is it safe in their home or your home in the community to provide the care and services.”
Sydney MacDougall lives in assisted living at Blocker Homes in Amherst. She tells 7 Eyewitness News she feels safe.
“We feel very fortunate actually to be where we are and to have everything provided for us and to have room to roam and to get exercise,” MacDougall says residents dine six feet apart and staff take extra precautions.
“Everything goes by the department of health. The staff is tested every morning - their temperature is taken,” MacDougall described.
Under the state's Nursing Home Rights Law, residents do have the "right to leave”, but consider the practical side.
“Nursing homes don't have to hold the bed. If you leave against medical advice and you sign yourself out, they're free to admit another resident to fill your bed or former bed,” remarked Heckler.
Heckler says her best advice to families and nursing homes, keep the line of communication open.
The New York State Health Department issued the following the statement in regards to nursing facilities:
“Ensuring New York’s most vulnerable nursing home population is protected is a priority in addressing the current COVID-19 outbreak and containing the virus. Therefore, the Department continues to communicate regularly with nursing home providers and industry leaders, which includes the guidance (here [coronavirus.health.ny.gov]) issued Saturday on implementing a notification protocol for residents and their families when a facility learns of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.”
Here is the full breakdown of numbers of the virus statewide from NYSDOH:
Nursing Home Numbers as of 4/8 (on background):
- 613 licensed nursing homes in New York State
- Current occupancy in those nursing homes is approximately 100,000 residents
- There are 4,170 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in licensed nursing homes at 312 distinct facilities
- 1231 deaths among nursing home residents