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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 24, 2021) – Zach Cattell, President of the Indiana Health Care Association/Indiana Center for Assisted Living (IHCA/INCAL), issued the following statement in response to AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard data ranking Indiana number one for resident COVID-19 death rate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been unrelenting in its negative impact on Indiana’s elderly and frail, as the virus most greatly impacts elderly individuals, particularly those with co-morbidities, which represent a majority of Indiana’s long-term care (LTC) residents. The four-week snapshot of data posted by AARP demonstrates the tremendous burden that elderly and frail Hoosiers shouldered when Indiana was experiencing the highest rate of COVID-19 spread across the state since the onset of the public health emergency, which correlates with academic experts and the CDC’s findings that COVID-19 trends in nursing home residents and staff resemble those in the surrounding communities. For the four-week period of mid-December to mid-January, Indiana experienced the most COVID-19 deaths per 100 LTC residents, but it is important to note that most LTC facilities were not experiencing significant staff shortages during that time. These numbers instead likely correlate to the peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations and statewide cases between December 1 and December 5.
While it would be convenient to have a simple answer as to why this loss of life occurred during those four-weeks, understanding why requires a deeper inquiry. In addition to the statewide spread, some parts of the answer also depend on LTC facilities’ role in admitting COVID-19 residents from hospitals to alleviate hospital capacity challenges, in the underlying health conditions of those who contract COVID-19, and in how, despite continued implementation of infection control practices, the virus spreads easily among individuals.
It is important to note that COVID-19 outbreaks are not the result of inattentiveness or a shortcoming in LTC facilities. Long term care professionals continue to comply with state and federal infection control protocols and fearlessly battle the virus and serve their residents. We are encouraged the rate of community spread has significantly slowed since December and January and this is contributing to the decline in cases in Indiana’s LTC facilities. We hope that with the vaccine and continued efforts to physically distance, wear masks and wash hands, we all can prevent future surges of COVID-19 in both the community and LTC facilities.”
IHCA/INCAL is the state’s largest trade association and advocacy group representing for-profit and not-for-profit nursing homes, as well as assisted living communities and independent living. The association provides education, information, and advocacy for health care providers, consumers, and the workforce on behalf of its more than 444-member facilities.