MCCL urges refocus on vulnerable in light of ongoing scourge in Minnesota's long-term care centers
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) today called for a renewed focus on protection of the vulnerable as COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota's long-term care and assisted-living facilities continue to rise. As of today, 688 fatalities have taken place in such facilities, according to the Department of Health—which is a highest-in-the-nation 82 percent of the statewide coronavirus-related death total. The state continues to allow the transfer of infected patients into long-term care centers.
"Minnesota is doing worse than other states at protecting the very people whose lives are most at risk during the coronavirus pandemic," says MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "We need to fight the fire where the fire is. It was clear early on that this virus would burn through long-term care centers if adequate protections were not put in place. And they weren't."
The following are among the concerning facts about the Health Department's response to COVID-19 in long-term care centers:
The percentage of Minnesota's coronavirus deaths taking place in long-term care facilities is higher than the percentage in every single other state that reports data, and that percentage has only risen in recent weeks, despite implementation of the Department of Health's "battle plan" meant to address deaths in long-term care.
Minnesota's death rate in such centers is higher than the rates in most states. This shows, as an analysis by economist John Phelan concludes, that “our state government has failed to protect those most at risk.”
Minnesota allows COVID-19 patients to be transferred back into long-term care facilities—"even poorly rated nursing homes with large and deadly clusters of coronavirus cases," as a Star Tribune report explains. New York and California had similar policies but then reversed course to avoid spreading the virus among vulnerable populations.
The Department of Health now seeks to delay implementation of a new law providing oversight of Minnesota's assisted-living facilities—a law passed following the exposure of a pre-existing and systemic problem of abuse and neglect.
"The situation in long-term care facilities is an emergency, but the Minnesota Department of Health is not acting like it," says Fischbach. "We need to make sure that all members of our society—especially those who are elderly, sick, disabled, and dependent—are valued and protected."