Nursing home residents account for 34% of Michigan's COVID-19-related deaths
Nursing home residents account for 34% of Michigan's COVID-19-related deaths, according to newly released data from the state.
The deaths of 1,947 nursing home residents and 20 employees at facilities across Michigan were COVID-19-related, the state health department reported Monday, as it released data on deaths associated with individual nursing homes for the first time since the pandemic hit Michigan three months ago.
Overall, there have been 7,163 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among nursing home residents and 3,133 confirmed cases among staff. The majority of resident deaths connected to nursing homes — 72% — have been in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
According to the state, the number of deaths reported includes confirmed and suspected cases.
The health department on Monday announced requirements for testing of residents and staff members at nursing homes.
"Every person who lost their life to COVID-19 was unique and irreplaceable," state health department director Robert Gordon said during a media call on Monday. "We grieve for them all. Looking forward, all we can do is to be honest about what has happened and fiercely committed in reducing further loss of life in every way we can."
Gordon on Monday issued an order with testing requirements for nursing facilities, including initial testing of all residents and staff; testing of new or returning residents during intake unless tested within the last 72 hours; testing of residents and staff members with symptoms or suspected exposure, and weekly testing of residents and staff in facilities with positive cases until 14 days after the last new positive case.
The order also requires weekly testing of staff in regions designated by the state as being medium or higher risk.
According to the order, nursing homes have to submit plans for testing by June 22, including requesting assistance from the state if needed, and begin implementing those plans by June 29. According to the order, failure to comply could result in civil fines.
Nursing homes are also required to continue reporting of required data, including on confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases, deaths, staffing shortages, testing and supplies of personal protective equipment.
The AARP supports the testing mandate, Paula D. Cunningham, AARP state director, said in a news release.
"The sad fate of so many older adults in long-term care facilities is both heartbreaking and infuriating," she is quoted saying in the news release. "Setting up and implementing a comprehensive plan for testing of staff and residents is among the essential steps necessary to overturn this abject tragedy."
Michigan has had 5,772 deaths overall attributed to the coronavirus and more than 60,000 confirmed cases as of Monday.
Nursing homes in metro Detroit have been hit especially hard — there have been 377 deaths of nursing home residents in Macomb County, 307 in Oakland County and 710 in Wayne County, which includes cases in Detroit, according to state data.
According to information released by the state health department, five nursing homes reported more than 30 resident deaths related to COVID-19 since the outbreak began.
- 43 deaths at Ambassador, A Villa Center in Detroit.
- 41 at The Manor of Novi — a statistic the state noted is "subject to additional validation."
- 38 at Advantage Living Center – Warren
- 35 at Autumn Woods Residential Health in Warren
- 32 at Regency Heights Nursing Center Detroit
Representatives from some of those facilities could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
According to an emailed statement from Villa Healthcare, the number of COVID-19-related deaths being reported by the state at Ambassador, a Villa Center, is wrong. The statement says: “While the definition of a COVID death has varied a lot from state to state and region to region, we have not had 43 deaths to our knowledge. Unfortunately, we have had 17 recorded deaths. Ambassador, a Villa Center and its staff are mourning the loss.”
Advantage Living Centers co-owner Kelsey Hastings said the team at the Warren location "worked hand in hand with state health officials to manage residents who contracted and/or were admitted with COVID-19." She said most residents passed away at the hospital.
"We were saddened by each resident who died as a result of or due to complications of this terrible disease," Hastings said.
Late last month, the state started providing cumulative coronavirus cases broken down by nursing home.
State health department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said in an email that facilities are self-reporting numbers.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a statewide breakdown of COVID-19-related nursing home deaths by facility. Some of those numbers were substantially higher than they should be, officials at several nursing homes told the Free Press.
The federal agency said it made the data public as quickly as possible "balancing transparency and speed against the potential of initial data errors."
Gordon on Monday described federal nursing home data released for Michigan in early June as “significantly flawed.”
“There were facilities with more deaths than cases and facilities with more deaths than beds. We knew we had to do something different to get accurate data," Gordon said. “So we decided to call 447 nursing facilities individually, in order to confirm key data fields, ensure that facilities are aware of state and federal reporting expectations and troubleshoot barriers to reporting.”
As of Monday, cumulative case and death data for residents and staff at Michigan nursing homes is being reported for 437 out of 447 facilities. But, similar to the federal data, these data are not without inconsistencies.
The Free Press found six nursing homes where resident deaths outnumbered cases. For example at Ambassador, A Villa in Detroit state data shows 43 deaths — the most statewide — but only 7 cumulative cases among residents.
State data for Regency at Chene a nursing home in Detroit shows zero cumulative cases of COVID-19 among residents, but 14 deaths. Data reported by the City of Detroit’s Health Department shows the same number of deaths among 92 cumulative cases overall.
The state’s data shows that half of the Michigan’s nursing homes have reported no COVID-19 cases among residents and approximately 58% reported no deaths. But the reliability of the self-reported data are in question when the state shows a nursing home with zero cases and zero deaths and the Detroit Health Department shows the same nursing home, Boulevard Temple, to have 69 resident cases and 18 total deaths.
“The death numbers include deaths of residents with suspected or laboratory-positive COVID-19, whereas the case counts require a laboratory-positive COVID-19 test result,” Sutfin said. “Given the test supply challenges faced by the state early on in the crisis, it is possible that some of the COVID-19-related deaths were suspected cases that were never tested/confirmed.”
Along with nursing homes, other long-term care facilities — including assisted living facilities, adult foster care facilities and homes for the aged — started reporting COVID-19 case information to the state May 29, Sutfin said in an email last week.
She said the health department has been focusing on data cleanup and validation needed to provide additional nursing home data publicly. There are no plans, at this point, to publish information from other long-term care facilities.
"We need to undergo considerable data quality reviews and conduct various validation exercises before posting information for these other facilities," she said in an email Friday. "Additionally, due to the small size of many of these facilities, there are additional concerns and legal issues to work through prior to determining the information that could be made publicly available."
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