For Immediate Release: July 2, 2020
Contact: Diane Gramley 814-271-9078
PA Prisoners Released While Trapped Nursing Home Residents Die
(Harrisburg) — Governor Tom Wolf is bragging about releasing over 3400 prisoners from state prison in order to protect them from COVID-19 and reports less than one percent of the prison population has tested positive for the coronavirus. The American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA), a statewide advocacy organization, questions the release of criminals while keeping nursing home residents locked in their facilities unable to receive visits from loved ones.
“There have been 6,649 deaths in Pennsylvania due to COVID-19. Of those, 4,583 were nursing home residents who died alone without loved ones nearby because of Governor Wolf’s and Health Secretary Levine’s policies. Levine, whose own mother was removed from a nursing home in York County at the beginning of the pandemic, remains adamant that the earlier policies implemented were the best ones. If these policies, which have resulted in two-thirds of all PA COVID deaths being in nursing homes, were the best then I’d hate to see what the results of a worst policy would have been,” remarked Diane Gramley, AFA of PA president.
Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) provided guidance on March 13, 2020.
Page 4 of that guidance states, “A nursing home can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID-19 and still under Transmission-Based Precautions for COVID-19 as long as the facility can follow CDC guidance for Transmission-Based Precautions.”
Page 5 notes in bold: Nursing homes should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.
The PA Department of Health issued its own guidance based on the CMS guidance on or about March 19. It reads:
“Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable to alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings. This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.”
Levine has said the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) guidance was followed with the issuance of the PA policy, but it is quite clear that the PA policy altered the CMS language to the detriment of nursing home residents.
“Only recently, after the release of 3400 plus criminals, has the Wolf administration begun to show any interest in stopping the deaths in nursing homes. It was quite clear worldwide that the older population with underlying health conditions were the most vulnerable to COVID-19, yet that was ignored by this governor and his health secretary. Their actions now are 4,583 deaths too late,” concluded Gramley.
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