COVID 19 and nursing homes: The perfect storm

As you have probably heard, the City of Burlington has the highest increase in death rates doubling in the entire country. I've seen several folks try to connect this with the Ace Speedway incident, but it really is just an unfortunate coincidence. Burlington's numbers hail almost exclusively from a large nursing home:

White Oak has reported 103 cases in 66 residents and 37 staff members as of May 26, according to data the state released Tuesday. At least 19 people have died, all of them residents. Those 19 account for nearly all of Alamance County’s 24 recorded deaths.

County officials first reported the outbreak May 1, according to the Burlington Times-News. At the time, 120 residents had been tested and 12 were positive. By May 21, WFMY reported White Oak had the largest nursing home outbreak in the Triad with 80 cases and nine deaths.

I have some personal experience with this facility. These stories are rarely uplifting, and this one is no different:

Back in the late 1990's, my father was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's. By 2002, the disease had progressed to the point he could no longer be cared for at home. Some who are afflicted with this become meek and fearful, and some become physically aggressive. My father was one of the latter. He lasted less than 24 hours at the first facility we placed him in before I received a frantic phone call (at work) to come and get him. I was actually lucky that another local facility had a bed available in an Alzheimer's ward, and that was White Oak Manor. It was a fully-staffed operation with an MD in residence (not on-call), and licensed nurses supervising everything from PT to meal prep. To say I was relieved is an understatement.

My father lasted one week there before he injured an orderly and was committed to Butner. He remained at the state hospital for some four months while they tried to adjust his meds to the right level so he could be moved back to a resting home. On one visit I noticed he was exhibiting tardive dyskinesia, a sign that the anti-psychotics they were giving him needed to be dialed back. He was eventually released to the care of a nursing home up near the Virginia line, and passed away some 5 months later.

The reason I brought that up is to demonstrate how difficult it is to care for people who have reached this point. The vast majority of nursing home patients suffer from some form of cognitive dysfunction, on top of whatever physical challenges they have. They often don't understand even the simplest of instructions given to them, or they rapidly forget, so keeping the mask on their face or keeping them from touching each other is virtually impossible. Yes, there have been instances where the staff has been negligent, did not practice prophylactic measures themselves, and government regulators need to be especially vigilant. But when people like Dan Forest try to use this crisis to their political advantage, it makes my blood boil:

Somebody needs to ask her if she was aware that Dan Forest was using her pain and anguish in his campaign messaging. Because I have a feeling he did not get permission to use it that way.

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