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Ohio nursing homes report hundreds of COVID-19 deaths

Nursing home
Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 19:06:14-04

The Ohio Department of Health has released the first reports of COVID-19 deaths in longterm care facilities across Ohio, revealing at least 276 have died since just April 15.

Those figures, from just a two week time period, represent 30% of all COVID-19 deaths in Ohio since early March and underscore why long term care residents are among the most vulnerable.

In Northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga County had the most longterm care deaths with 29, followed by Summit County, 25, and Stark, 14.

Click the interactive map below to see how COVID-19 deaths breakdown across Ohio:

Statewide, there have been 2,998 COVID-19 cases in longterm care facilities since April 15 — 2,126 patients and 872 staff members.

The 5 On Your Side Investigators have created this searchable database to check COVID-19 cases in individual longterm care facilities. However, the death data was only broken down by county and not by facility.

Peter Van Runkle is President of the Ohio Health Care Association that represents more than 900 long term care facilities across the state and is not surprised by the number of deaths.

Peter Van Runkle
Peter Van Runkle, Ohio Health Care Association

"I don't think it is the worst case scenario," says Van Runkle, "because we were prepared as much as we could be."

"The challenge," he says, "is that I could have it right at this moment and don't even know it," raising the risk of infecting a facility.

Van Runkle also insists that Ohio's nursing homes are working hard to protect more than 73,000 long term care residents.

"We're doing our level best to do that," he says, "now, everyone is wearing masks in the facility, if the resident goes out of a room they are supposed to be wearing a mask, staff are supposed to wear masks at all times."

Even so, complaints filed with Ohio's Longterm Care Ombudsman continue to be filed.

Overall, Ombudsman Beverly Laubert says long term care facilities are providing safety but says "we're looking for ongoing communication from families who say they were initially told what was happening but now not hearing a lot."

Plus, some facilities are doing a better job than others.

"It depends on the facility, it depends on what the situation is," says Laubert.One of her major concerns is when residents are treated at hospitals and then return and are readmitted to the nursing home.

Laubert says each facility must develop better plans for those types of cases.

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