State declined nursing homes' idea to put COVID-19 patients elsewhere
"Lansing — Three days after the confirmation of Michigan's first COVID-19 cases, the state's nursing home association leader recommended in a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration that empty facilities should be used as quarantine centers to "avoid widespread infection."
But state officials declined the suggestion of Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan, and instead set up a system in which infected residents are cared for in isolated areas of nursing homes, separate from residents without the virus.
...As of Monday, the state reported 1,947 deaths among individuals who lived in nursing facilities and 20 deaths among staff.
The tallies represented about more than a third of the statewide death toll at that point.
...Samuel, whose association represents 353 member facilities, said Friday she didn't know why the state didn't follow the association's recommendation.
...Samuel made the suggestion about caring for nursing home residents with the coronavirus at "vacant and new and unlicensed facilities" on March 13.
The letter, which was emailed to state health officials, was recently released through a public records request.
"HCAM members have a number of facilities, including in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, that could be used for this purpose," Samuel wrote in the letter...