Myers/Lawson Long-Term Care Plan
Indiana’s long term care facilities are in a crisis. Our nursing homes rank among the worst in the nation and the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the state’s negligence of our senior care system and lack of leadership at the top. The Pence-Holcomb Administrations allowed the long-term care industry to grow with very few protections for seniors and their loved ones. Ties between the nursing home industry and the Indiana legislature have created an environment favoring politics over seniors.
More than half of COVID-19 deaths in Indiana can be traced back to nursing homes. Yet for three months, Governor Holcomb refused to release the names of the long-term care facilities that have infected patients and staff- leaving families frightened and frustrated with concern over their loved ones. Neighboring states recognized this is a public health concern and prioritized releasing the information months ago.
We need to push harder for transparency. The fact is, over 90% of the nursing homes in Indiana are owned by county hospitals, ultimately funded by Hoosier taxpayers. We deserve to know what happens in facilities paid for by our tax dollars. This lack of transparency leaves families, and the general public, in the dark about the scope of the virus in our communities and the atrocious living situation for many of our seniors. That’s not the Hoosier Way.
The nursing home industry is in dire need of an overhaul. It is clear the state’s regulations weren’t written to ensure communication and quality care for residents and their families, but to protect business interests at the expense of residents. We can do better and without delay.
We need to improve testing, become more transparent, and invest in and support the direct care staff working in these facilities who are every bit as much our heroes as the nurses and doctors in the ICUs and first responders in the field. A Myers/Lawson Administration will call for transparency on day one and prioritize long term care residents, families, and staff before politics.
- Expand telemedicine and virtual medicine capabilities to maintain a continuum of care for elderly patients
- Provide nursing homes support for virtual visitations between residents and their families
- Create a task-force for COVID-19 long-term care preparedness to determine best practices
- Update Department of Health’s antiquated reporting system and create mandated uniform reporting requirements
- Mandate detailed public communications about COVID-19 cases and deaths in the senior care system to the state
- Oppose efforts to enact blanket lawsuit immunity for nursing homes or long-term care facilities from negligence in the COVID-19 health crisis
- Increase testing for patients and staff across the senior care system by refocusing the Optum testing and contact tracing capabilities to our nursing homes where the problems grow worse by the hour
- Decrease the wait time for test results through greater efficiency and increased capacity to meet the need
- Require the infection controls teams at each facility to review and act on testing results every day and ensure that testing protocols are followed without exception
- Develop a multi-faceted plan for COVID-only skilled nursing facilities to support care and recovery for elderly patients
- Establish an immediate pipeline to recruit caregivers to address shortages and implement accountability measures to ensure staffing doesn’t fall below appropriate levels
- Ensure all nursing home healthcare workers and aides have access to medical-grade personal protective equipment to safely care for patients
- Increase funding for Indiana’s Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled (CHOICE) program, which will allow more seniors to age-in-place
- Enhance whistleblower protections to ensure whistleblower confidentiality