Why 130,000 Nursing Home Patients Died of COVID-19

by Cheryl Clark: For Complete Post, Click Here…

At Senate hearing, executive pay draws fire.

Adelina Ramos told a Senate Finance Committee hearing Wednesday what it was like to be a certified nursing assistant in a 160-bed facility where 20 patients and another co-worker died from COVID-19 within one month.

They were so short-staffed at the facility in Greenville, Rhode Island, they had to choose which of their dying patients needed care first, often leaving others scared and alone. They had to perform so many tasks, such as 15-minute oxygen checks on some, and help others eat, drink, or move. It was particularly frightening for the many residents with Alzheimer’s disease, but there was no time for comfort.

“It was horrifying. We begged management for more staff for each shift, but they said they couldn’t find anyone. And so our residents and staff kept getting sick and dying,” Ramos said. Her co-workers, meanwhile, were working for hourly pay as low as $12.34. Without testing, she too became infected, and unknowingly put her family and others at risk.

Her story of her year of terror, and those from other witnesses, provided a few reasons why 130,000 nursing home residents and some 1,600 members of their staff died of COVID-19. And they paved the way for some embarrassing questions and outrage from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Addressing Ramos, Warren said, “Basically, what you’re saying is that you didn’t have the supplies, you didn’t have the staff you needed when the coronavirus hit.” That’s why Congress passed relief packages like the CARES Act earlier, to get providers the resources they need, she said.

Why, Warren wanted to know, didn’t Genesis, which provides services in 350 nursing homes in 25 states including Ramos’s, not hire more staff, despite receiving $665 million in state and federal grants and loans last year?

“Guess what Genesis did,” Warren continued. “It gave its then CEO a $5.2-million dollar retention bonus just a few months before he left the company, which was and is in dire financial condition.”

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