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Gov. Whitmer creates task force to protect nursing homes from COVID-19

(WILX)
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 2:00 PM EDT
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed two executive order to protect Michigan nursing home residents and staff from COVID-19.

Whitmer's office said

creates the bipartisan Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

extends existing safety measures "to maintain restrictions regarding entry to care facilities designed to protect vulnerable populations," the governor's office said.

Whitmer's office said since it was first issued back on March 14, Executive Order 2020-136 has prohibited entry into a nursing home without undergoing a rigorous screening protocol designed to protect facilities from COVID-19.

“We have taken great strides here in Michigan to protect families from the spread of COVID-19 and lower the chance of a second wave, but it’s crucial that we stay vigilant and work around the clock to protect our most vulnerable residents and those who have dedicated their lives to caring for them,” said Governor Whitmer. “These actions will help our state protect more nursing home residents and staff in the case of a second wave. Moving forward, I will work closely with the task force and with everyone who wants to help us protect our most vulnerable communities, the heroes on the front lines, and our families from this virus.”

The governor's office said the task force will be focusing on analyzing relevant data on the threat of COVID-19 in nursing homes, making recommendations to the governor on improving data quality, and releasing periodic reports to the governor on its findings and recommendations.

The governor's office said the task force must also produce a recommendation to the governor for an action plan on how to prepare nursing homes for any future wave of COVID-19 cases by Aug. 31, 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a particularly dire threat to the health and safety of residents and employees of long-term care facilities across the country,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “This task force will help us continue to work to protect our most vulnerable residents and the caretakers serving on the front lines.”

“The impact of COVID-19 on nursing home residents has been especially tragic,” said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP Michigan. “I am optimistic this bi-partisan Taskforce will identify best practices to ensure that nursing home residents and staff are better served and protected going forward.”

“SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s nursing home workers are essential and continue to put their lives at risk by going to work daily,” said Andrea Acevedo, President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan. “We believe that every nursing home worker deserves the support, resources and protections to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe throughout this pandemic and beyond. The Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force is one of many steps needed to ensure that protection, health and safety standards across the nursing home industry are met. And the most transformative work we can do to ensure the highest quality of care for residents and for workers, is by allowing our frontline nursing home workers to have a voice and seat at the decision making table.”

The governor's office said the task force is made up of leaders across state government, including representative from DHHS and LARA. The governor's office said the task force will also include a representative of the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman program.

You can view both executive orders attached to this article.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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