Maui News

AARP Analysis Found 4 Hawaiʻi Nursing Home Deaths for 4-Week Period, Below National Average

March 22, 2021, 11:42 AM HST
* Updated March 22, 11:43 AM
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AARPʻs analysis shows no new COVID-19 infections among residents in the four weeks ending Feb. 14, with many residents getting vaccinated during this time period.. PC: Maui Health. (File 12.23.20)

AARP’s latest COVID-19 analysis of nursing homes in Hawaiʻi, covering the four weeks ending February 14, shows there were four deaths, which again is below the national per capita average. There were no new COVID-19 infections reported among residents.

AARPʻs Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard reported the deaths of nursing home residents are slightly higher than what they were in the previous period of the four weeks ending on Jan. 17, rising from a rate of .07 to .14 per 100 residents. Only Alaska and North Dakota have a lower per capita rate.

Hawaiʻi reported 10 staff COVID-19 cases in about 15 percent of nursing homes, which is the lowest staff infection rate in the country. The new staff infection rate declined from .08 cases per 100 residents to .03 per capita cases.

The dashboard also revealed that personal protective equipment availability remains a problem. In Hawaiʻi, 20.5 percent of Hawaiʻi nursing homes reported PPE shortages during the 4-week period. The national average of nursing homes reporting PPE shortages was 11 percent.

Vaccinations in Hawaiʻi had just begun in the period covered by the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. Deaths generally lag behind new infections, so the residents who died may have been infected before the nursing home vaccination program began.

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“We’re saddened by any kupuna deaths because of COVID-19 and our sympathies go out to the families of the nursing home residents affected,” said Kealiʻi Lopez, AARP Hawaiʻi state director. “We hope the trend of no new COVID-19 infections among residents continues. But even with the high rate of vaccinations in Hawaiʻi nursing homes, we can’t let down our guard. We must continue to wear masks in public and in long-term care facilities and practice good infection control to protect kupuna. So it’s worrisome that Hawaiʻi long-term care facilities continue to have problems with obtaining PPE.”

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AARP Hawaiʻi continues pushing for reforms that make nursing homes safe and provide options for seniors to stay in their homes. AARP Hawaiʻi encourages prioritized testing and adequate PPE; better transparency about long-term care cases and deaths; safe visitation; and the following components of AARP’s five-point plan to improve nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

  • Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate PPE for residents and staff — and for inspectors and visitors.
  • Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
  • Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for residents.
  • Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Reject immunity and hold long-term care facilities accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.  
  • Establish minimum nursing staffing standards.
  • Provide supplemental staff wages and benefits during this emergency.
  • Ensure that increases in nursing homes’ reimbursement rates are spent on staff pay and to improve protections for residents. 
  • Improve minimum wages for staff in residential and home care settings.
  • Ensure progress is made so that in-person visitation can safely occur and facilitate virtual visitation.
  • Create a pathway for single occupancy rooms in nursing homes.
  • Establish a long-term care emergency operation center.
  • Establish a state task force on nursing home quality and safety.

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in 4-week periods, beginning June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The full Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID-19 is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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