Monday, May 25, 2020

Korum, a recovering cancer patient, said her requests for a private room had been denied, and she refused to return to a cramped room with a sickened roommate. “I was scared out of my mind,” she said. “Being told to go back to that room felt like a death sentence.”

She slept on the floor in the common room. Welcome to life in a Minnesota nursing home.

From the Star Tribune:

Many of the state’s 370 nursing homes are laid out like hospitals, with residents doubled up and as many as four people sharing a single bathroom. Some nursing facilities have shower areas shared by dozens of residents on entire floors. This institutional design was meant to be cost-efficient, but it has contributed to the rapid spread of the virus from one vulnerable resident to the next and the stunning death toll within Minnesota’s nursing homes, say public health experts.

Kim Orsello of Prior Lake said she “became sick to my stomach” after learning that her father’s room was on the same floor where his nursing home had moved residents infected with COVID-19.

She was worried because he took showers in a room shared with about 20 other residents. On Friday, her fears were realized: A nurse at the facility called to tell her that her father had tested positive for COVID-19.

“I felt like, given the design of the facility, it was inevitable,” she said.

Already, at least 24 residents of his nursing home, Southview Acres Healthcare Center in West St. Paul, have died of the virus and nearly 100 have been sickened, according to families.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The line "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here" was hummed into the microphone every night at closing time.

Just when I was losing the will to live, there is this news: The Bryant Lake Bowl is back! Only take-out for now, and only on weekends, but this should give all of us hope. Please consider ordering a meal or some of their excellent merchandise.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Okay, that went well

From the Strib: 

A Minnesota National Guard unit botched COVID-19 testing for 300 residents and staff members at a St. Paul nursing home Monday, leaving many with pain, discomfort and bloody noses.

In what one health official acknowledged was “a disaster,” the test samples from Episcopal Church Home were later ruined because they were not stored in coolers while being transported to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"In early April, Katelyn was in a financial bind: Home sick with COVID, she hadn’t been paid in weeks. And bills were due. 'My landlord is kinda beating down my door right now,' she said in a voicemail to our hotline."

Her story is on this week's "Arm and a Leg" podcast. She made it through and she has tips to pass along.

Should the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine give us hope? Or should it give us pause?

Lessons from the history of the polio vaccine, in The New York Times:

The first effective polio vaccine followed decades of research and testing. Once fully tested, it was approved with record speed. Then there were life-threatening manufacturing problems. Distribution problems followed. Political fights broke out. After several years, enough Americans were vaccinated that cases plummeted — but they persisted in poor communities for over a decade. Polio’s full story should make us wary of promises that we will soon have the coronavirus under control with a vaccine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"When we find ourselves becoming numb to thousands of people dying, we need to wake up."

Gordon Marino writes in Commonweal:

For most of us safely quarantining at home with the help of Zoom and Netflix, the pandemic’s body count may seem as abstract as the casualties of a war fought on foreign soil. Bombarded with bad news, we shake our heads and look for some distraction to calm or amuse us. Maybe a YouTube concert, maybe Tiger King. We do our best to keep up with the latest advice from medical experts, or the moving accounts of health-care workers on the front lines, but after a while we—or at least I—become inured to the shots of bodies stacked in freezers. In her Regarding The Pain Of Others, Susan Sontag argued that photos of raw death and suffering fail to pump up our empathy. Maybe she was right. So what then? How should we feel about the hordes of lives being lost every day. How should we grieve?

Some philosophers, such as Kant, insist that because we can’t command ourselves to feel emotions, we have no duty to feel empathy, while other philosophers, such as Hume, treat tender feelings as the core of morality. I disagree with Kant, and so by the way does Kierkegaard. We may not be able to choose exactly what we feel, but we have some sway over our emotions. When we find ourselves becoming numb to thousands of people dying, we need to wake up. We need to call upon our imagination to nurture the fellow feeling that, in these darkling times, often goes sadly missing.

Yes, this makes total sense

Over 80% of Covid-19 deaths in Minnesota are in long-term care facilities. This is an emergency. These are the most dangerous places in the state. So what are hospitals doing? They are sending infected patients to nursing homes to recover. And regulators are permitting it.

Here's the report in the Star Tribune:

Despite the devastating death toll, Minnesota nursing homes are still being allowed by state regulators to admit coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospitals.

Early in the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Health turned to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to relieve the burden on hospitals that were at risk of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Minnesota hospitals have since discharged dozens of infected patients to nursing homes, including facilities that have undergone large and deadly outbreaks of the disease, state records show.

Currently, even poorly rated nursing homes with large and deadly clusters of coronavirus cases have been allowed to admit COVID-19 patients from hospitals. One such facility, North Ridge Health and Rehab in New Hope, has accepted 42 patients from hospitals and other long-term care facilities since mid-April even as the coronavirus has raged through its 320-bed nursing home, killing 48 of its patients and infecting scores more.

“It makes no sense to bring more COVID-19 patients into facilities that have already failed to protect them,” said Sen. Karin Housley, the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee. “If it were my mom or dad in one of these facilities, I would be really worried.”