New Data Shows COVID-19 Impact in Nursing Homes

NATIONWIDE — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released new data earlier this week showing the impact of COVID-19 cases in the nation's nursing homes on Friday.

What You Need To Know

About 88 percent of nursing homes nationwide have reported

Data reports over 95,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 32,000 deaths

Individual nursing homes searchable

Click here to visit the portal

The data was launched on a new online portal. It includes all of the information nursing homes were mandated to report back in May.

“This sort of national data for nursing homes is sort of unprecedented and constitutes the backbone of a national COVID-19 virus surveillance system,” said Seema Verma, the administrator for CMS.

So far, about 88 percent of nursing homes have reported the required data, out of more than 15,000 nationwide. These facilities reported over 95,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and almost 32,000 deaths. The portal includes a section where individual nursing homes are searchable.

“This is the first time under the CMS regulations that the data is available at an individual nursing home level with greater details than just total number of death,” said Dr. Kathryn Her, a professor with USF’s School of Aging Studies and also the Director of the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging.

For example, a quick search of Highlands Lakes Center, the nursing home in Polk County with the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths, reveals periods of staff shortages and shortages of masks, eye protection and gowns. 

Dr. Lindsay Peterson, an associate professor with USF’s School of Aging Studies, said that can be important information for individuals who can now access the information themselves. 

“If they have shortages of PPE, that is something to ask the nursing home about and maybe talk to their state legislators, talk to people who have some kind of authority in the county or the state about how to get the needed supplies to these nursing homes,” Peterson said.

But while the new portal is offering a virtual window into facilities, keep in mind not all Florida nursing homes have reported yet. The site also doesn’t include data from assisted living facilities, as they’re not regulated by CMS. 

On top of that, this memo from the agency states specifically “there is no requirement in the run to collect older data,” meaning facilities don’t have to report data any further back than May.

Verma said nursing homes were given a grace period to get their data in. Those who haven’t reported yet have until June 7 to do so — they otherwise face fines starting at $1,000 a week.

Nursing homes will be required to continue submitting data weekly and the site will be updated accordingly.

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