As of today, there are 289 COVID-19 patients currently in nursing homes that the state has transferred to these facilities. These homes are designated by the state of Michigan as “regional hubs” and they make a lot of money taking care of them. They get a a $5000 per bed incentive in addition to the standard amount that they get per day for their ongoing care. 

These transferred patients are people who aren’t sick enough to be in the hospital but who test positive and still need care. The regional hubs are a reality because Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that makes it mandatory for a nursing home to accept a patient back to their facility unless they are unable to care for them. If they can’t provide adequate care, sending the patient to a regional hub is one of their options. 

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services established these hubs to “assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19” which seems totally counter-productive when you’re sending patients to communities with low COVID-19 infections like Grand Traverse County. 

Grand Traverse County (Traverse City) has only had 21 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic and five deaths. Sounds like a great place to ship patients with the coronavirus, right? She wouldn’t allow Michigan residents to go up north to their vacation homes but she transferred COVID-19 patients up there. 

Right now, MediLodge of Grand Traverse County is currently caring for five transferred patients with the virus but can take up to 26. 

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MediLodge owns many nursing homes all over the state and would make up to $1.85 million if all of their hub-available beds were filled with transfers from the state. It’s easy to see why they applied to be a regional hub. Follow the money. 

And I wouldn’t exactly call MediLodge experts in knowing how to deal with the virus considering that they have had outbreaks in several locations including Alpena

Many of the MediLodge locations currently have residents with COVID-19 (not transfers) which account for 180 residents infected in 11 of their facilities. 

Does this sound like a company who should be allowed to be a regional hub? It doesn’t look to me like they are too effective at infection control. 

According to the Traverse City Record-Eagle, the MediLodge of Grand Traverse County was fined $26,336 in 2017 for violations of prescription drug policies and was cited 19 times in the past three years. In April of 2018, the facility was cited for a violation of the infection and prevention control program. Lovely. 

Their most recent inspection report by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid was done in January of 2019 and showed five health citations. They have an overall below average health inspection rating with Nursing Home Compare, a ratings system done by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

And still, MediLodge was allowed by the governor to take in COVID-19 patients. I guess past violations and the fact that they have outbreaks in their facilities is not a sticking point for the state when approving their company to be a regional hub. 

Unfortunately for families with relatives at nursing homes across the state, these nursing homes are not required to notify existing residents about these COVID-19 transfers. And it isn’t easy to move them out. In the case of MediLodge of Grand Traverse County, other homes around the area have said that they won’t take in MediLodge patients. 

If you want to know if a nursing home near you has taken in COVID-19 patients, you can click here for the website, scroll down and click on “see cumulative data” and then click on “long term care facilities.” You can see the list of regional hubs and how many patients they have taken in. You can also see if the nursing homes in your county has any COVID-19 infected residents. 

If you take a deep dive and look into the “COVID-19 Long Term Care Facility Guidance” issued on April 2nd by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding regional hubs, you will see many problems. 

First, instead of giving nursing homes specific guidelines, they keep referring to the CDC website links for guidance and they tell them to “focus on adherence.” Focus? That doesn’t sound like a mandatory rule. Shouldn’t there be mandatory rules when you’re shipping COVID-19 patients all over the state? 

Their guidance also says “long-term care facilities should ensure all staff are using appropriate PPE when they are interacting with patients and residents, to the extent PPE is available.” 

Excuse me. To the extent they are available? If these homes aren’t able to maintain a sufficient supply of PPEs, why in the heck are they approved to be regional hubs????? 

The guidance also says that some patients will be leaving the nursing homes for hemodialysis – which means they’ll be moved around and be inside our local ambulances and hospitals as well. 

And the guidance says that facilities should use separate staffing teams for COVID-19 positive residents to the best of their ability. 

The best of their ability? Seriously? So you just have to try really hard? 

It says COVID-19 positive units and facilities must be capable of maintaining strict infection control practices. Well, the MediLodge company doesn’t seem to be able to do that in at least 11 of its facilities. 

Suffice to say, I had hoped when reading this information, I would feel better about how the regional hub program is being ran but I feel worse. The “guidance” is not comforting at all. 

This is yet another one of Whitmer’s executive orders that we are stuck with until her emergency declaration is hopefully nullified soon when her tyrannical governance is challenged in the court system. Meanwhile, how much damage will she do? 

Trump’s coronavirus task force told the governors on Monday that they now recommend every single nursing home resident and worker be tested in the next two weeks. This is probably because of the recent story about how 1/3 of coronavirus deaths are nursing home residents and workers. In some states, they account for half of the deaths. 

The governor should not be sending COVID-19 patients anywhere until they are recovered and no longer have the virus. Protecting patients in nursing homes is a top priority and she doesn’t seem to get that no matter what data is presented to her.