September 10, 2020

Hospitals, nursing homes ignore guidelines to separate COVID-19 from other patients

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

Dozens of nursing homes and hospitals ignored official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to separate COVID-19 patients from those without the virus, the September 10 Kaiser Health News reports.

A Kaiser Health News investigation found that nursing homes and hospitals ignored (CDC) guidelines to separate COVID-19 patients in facilities in California, Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, Ohio, Maryland, and New York.


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The New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus in late April had COVID-19 and non-COVId-19 residents with dementia mingling in a day room. At the time, the Home had already reported COVID-19 infections in 119 residents and 46-virus related deaths.

Also in late April, an Iowa nursing home overrode the orders of a community physician to isolate several patients with fevers and falling oxygen levels. By mid-May, 61 patients had COVID-19 and nine died.

At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, California, where two nurses became ill and one died from the virus on July 17, COVID-19 patients were scattered throughout the hospital.

A July National Nurses United survey of more than 21,000 nurses found that 32% worked in facilities that did not have a dedicated COVID-19 unit.

Several reasons have been given for mixing COVID-19 with non-COVID-19 patients, including having limited tests, so patients carrying the virus are identified only after exposing others; false-negative test results; and being dismissive of federal guidelines.

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