PA Nursing-Homes Account For As Much As 80% Of County Wu-Flu Deaths

On March 18, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine directed licensed long-term care facilities to continue admitting new patients.

Nursing-homes account for roughly 65% of Chinese-Flu deaths in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has not updated its guidance regarding nursing home admission.

Red Light, Green Light, Yellow

As Gov. Tom Wolf goes about deciding when different regions in Pennsylvania will reopen from the coronavirus shutdown, he will not consider nursing home numbers separate from the rest of a county, said state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on Thursday.

States ordered nursing homes to take COVID-19 residents. Thousands died. How it happened

By By David Robinson, Stacey Barchenger and Kelly Powers, USA Today Network, and Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times

Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:20 PM

On March 29, as Pennsylvania, New York and other states began ordering nursing homes to admit medically stable residents infected with the coronavirus, national trade groups warned it could unnecessarily cost more lives.

The health directives put “frail and older adults who reside in nursing homes at risk” and would “result in more people going to the hospital and more deaths,” the American Health Care Association and affiliates said at the time.

A month later, it appears government officials should have heeded the dire call to pursue different pandemic emergency plans.

The deadly virus has spread like wildfire through many nursing homes across the Northeast, and state officials are scrambling to better protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The death toll is devastating, according to interviews with nursing-home officials, patients’ families, health-care advocates, government officials and from an examination of state records by the USA Today Network Atlantic Group, a consortium of 37 Gannett-owned daily newspapers across the Northeast.


In Pennsylvania, about 65% of coronavirus deaths were nursing-home residents, and in counties in the hardest hit southeastern part of the state, long-term care residents account for as much as 80% of county deaths.


Meanwhile, advocates and residents’ relatives have criticized state and federal officials, as well as some nursing homes, for failing to address the crisis as deaths mounted.


Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has not updated its guidance regarding nursing home admission.

What states are doing about COVID-19 in nursing homes


On March 18, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine directed licensed long-term care facilities to continue admitting new patients, including those discharged from hospitals but unable to go home, and to readmit current patients after hospital stays.

“This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus,” according to a copy of the guidelines.

Continued admissions was ordered “to alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings,” according to the directive. But hospitals in most counties were never overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

State health officials also directed long-term care centers to employ “normal discharge-to-home” criteria to assist in long-term care bed availability, and to take “appropriate quarantine measures” for positive cases.

On Friday, a state health spokeswoman said the department is reviewing its guidance for long-term care facilities to see if it needed to be updated

As of Thursday, 468 — one quarter of Pennsylvania’s roughly 1,900 long-term care centers — had at least one COVID-19 case, according to state health data.

Those residents and staff testing positive combined account for 17% of the state’s 45,763 residents testing positive for the coronavirus since March 6. They also account for roughly 65% of the 2,292 deaths in the state.

Pennsylvania Health Department spokesman Nate Wardle said the department is aware of the “significance” of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities and is working to assist them as individuals are discharged from hospitals.

Pennsylvania is among six states reporting long-term care infection data where deaths in long-term care facilities account for more than half of overall coronavirus deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a national nonprofit that focuses on health care issues.


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