Professor Nina Kohn Pens OpEd in The Washington Post on Long-Term Care Reform
Covid awakened Americans to a nursing home crisis. Now comes the hard part.
(The Washington Post | April 28, 2021) During the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic, the conditions in the United States’ nursing homes were horrific. Nursing home residents account for less than half-of-1-percent of the U.S. population but roughly a quarter of the deaths related to covid-19.
Bodies piled up in makeshift morgues, staff who tested positive for the coronavirus were encouraged to come to work, and understaffing left residents helpless and alone. In a western New York home, with roughly 120 residents, for instance, a nursing assistant reported being — one day in March 2020, as the crisis mounted — the only person on duty.
The problems in America’s nursing homes won’t go away even if we wrestle covid-19 into submission, however. The pandemic exposed long-standing problems in the nursing home industry that stem from chronic understaffing and underspending on care for residents — problems often motivated by owners who place profit-seeking above their residents’ welfare. Spurred by the covid-19 tragedies, some federal and state lawmakers have proposed (and, in some cases, passed) laws designed to improve the quality of nursing home care. It’s a promising start, but much work remains ...