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Local families, health care groups call for more nursing home COVID-19 testing

Posted at 11:20 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 08:28:33-04

CLEVELAND — Some Northeast Ohio families and national health care organizations are calling for additional state and federal funding to provide universal COVID-19 testing of all residents and employees at long term care facilities across the state.

Ohio Department of Health data indicates 3 out of every 5 COVID-19 deaths in the state have a connection to these facilities.

Sam Hemoud said his 75-year-old father had to fight-off COVID-19 after coming down with the virus at an Avon Lake nursing home last month.

Hemoud pointed to a state-by-state breakdown for COVID-19 testing of all long-term care residents and employees issued by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living.

The data shows it would cost Ohio some $24 million to test everyone at state nursing homes, but Hemoud still believes the state needs to find the money as soon as possible for universal testing that would save lives.

“Those people in nursing homes, including my father, they need people to advocate for them, " Hemoud said.

“We need healthcare professionals to be tested," he added. “Three in every five deaths are in nursing homes, that's just a statistic, but to us it’s a parent, it’s a father, it’s a grandfather.”

“Twenty four million in the big scheme of things is nothing, it’s nothing, when they’re talking they have billions of dollars in the rainy day fund.

“The governor and the doctor need to do the right thing and allocate the funds to the right people.”

Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, representing 14,000 facilities across the national, also called for additional funding for COVID-19 testing at long term care facilities.

“Moving forward, it is vital that all long term care facilities receive additional support and funding from state governments to conduct expanded testing," Parkinson said.

"We encourage governors to use the $11 billion that has been allocated to states for expanding testing in our nursing homes, assisted living communities and other long term care facilities. States can also assist with logistical support in implementing such a large endeavor, with help from the National Guard or the state’s health department."

“The only way for our health care sector to curb the outbreak of this deadly virus is for prioritized, expedited and continuous testing."

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