AG Nessel shifts focus to long-term care facilities violating executive orders

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (AG Office/File Photo)
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (AG Office/File Photo)(WNDU)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 4:17 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Attorney General Dana Nessel is increasing efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that provides rules and regulations that facilities must follow to protect health of employees and residents.

Whitmer’s order outlines protections for residents at long-term care facilities like barring their evictions for non-payment, and lists several requirements. There are more than 4,900 long-term care facilities across the state impacted by Whitmer’s executive order.

For reference, long-term care facilities include nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities. 

Under executive order requirements, long-term care facilities must cancel communal dining and group activities, implement disinfection and sanitation regimens, provide personal protective equipment to employees, inform employees of a COVID-19-positive patient, and report presumed positive cases and additional data to their local health departments and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). 

Willful violations of this executive order are considered a misdemeanor offense, which carry a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.   

“Over the last several months, this virus has claimed more than 6,000 lives in Michigan and presented us with countless challenges that we have had to work together to overcome,” Nessel said. “My office is prepared to continue our role of enforcing the law as this virus lingers and as Michigan’s most vulnerable populations remain at risk. The measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-148 to protect those vulnerable populations and the people who care for them must be followed.” 

The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division investigates and even prosecute alleged abuse and neglect of residents of long-term care facilities. This could include taking legal actions to address violations of this executive order. However, the division may only act in response to a formal complaint. 

The enforcement of Whitmer’s executive order at long-term care facilities is a coordinated effort among the Attorney General’s office, MDHHS and LARA, which maintains regulatory oversight of these facilities.

“Across Michigan, nursing home staff, residents, and their families have made unprecedented sacrifices over the past four months to protect each other from the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Their work has undoubtedly saved lives. However, if there are facilities in our state that are putting their residents and staff at risk by not following the rules, they must be held accountable. I’m grateful that the Attorney General is prepared to take action to ensure every long-term care facility is doing everything they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable residents.” 

As of Monday, Michigan has recorded more than 2,000 resident deaths in long-term care facilities that have resulted from COVID-19 exposure, with around 7,800 positive COVID-19 cases emanating from people residing in those facilities. There have also been 22 deaths of staff members at long-term care facilities and more than 3,700 infected.  

“Our staff works with the employees and owners of Michigan’s long-term care facilities day in and day out and while I’m confident that the vast majority of them are doing things the right way, it is vital that we take action against those who are not following the rules,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “I appreciate AG Nessel and her team in leading the efforts for consumers to file complaints on possible violations related to the EO violations and spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.” 

Violations can be reported by calling the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division at 800-24-ABUSE (800-242-2873) or a complaint can be filed here.

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