Monday, March 9, 2020

Low-paid caregivers and Covid-19 Transmission

Serenity at a skilled nursing facility near Kirkland, Washington
Here's one way that transmission works.  

1) An underpaid caregiver works at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, but she needs two jobs to make ends meet, so she also works at another skilled nursing facility ten miles away.  

2) When the outbreak occurs at Kirkland, the CDC refuses to test the severely ill patients because none of them has traveled or been on a cruise.  Several are hospitalized, but no quarantine is implemented by the CDC.  The hospital takes quarantine measures just in case.

3) Three days after the death of one of the patients, he is tested for Covid-19 and found positive.  News goes out around the world on Feb. 29, a Saturday.

4) Caregivers are reluctant to return to Kirkland, but it's their job.  Some continue working there and at the other jobs they have.  No workers are quarantined.  No other nursing homes ask their employees if they have a second job at Kirkland.  

By Saturday, March 7, 70 workers were out sick from the Life Care Center with corona-like symptoms.  A federal team of nurses and doctors arrived to take over some of the work.

A few days earlier my cousin's daughter, whose mother lives at a nearby nursing home, was told that a caregiver from Life Care Center in Kirkland had also been working at her mom's place.

"Criminal!" she said.  

Yes, criminal on the part of the CDC and the nursing home management for not foreseeing and forestalling contamination by employees of more than one facility.

But the caregiver with two jobs probably just saw continuing to work at two places as a necessity, not a crime.  She probably has only a few sick days per year.

Do these caregivers even have health care insurance themselves?  Maybe Medicare for all is not such a bad idea.  Maybe it would help everyone to be healthier.

By Saturday, 13 residents and one visitor to the Life Care Center had died.  

Three other senior residences had reported cases by Saturday: Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Aegis Living Marymoor in Redland, and Ida Culver House Ravenna in Seattle.

Actually, the first case of Covid-19 in Washington was reported on January 20

The first individual in the United States to be confirmed as positive for the new coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control was indeed a resident of Snohomish County, Wash. That was on Jan. 20.

This guy recovered. 

My cousin's widow and I in February
The first death, reported Feb. 29 by the US president, was a man in his 50s in Kings County, which includes Seattle.  Of course, dt said the death was a woman in her 50s, not a man.  Of course, he said this death was not related to the outbreak in a nursing home. To him, facts are elusive and unimportant.  

Meanwhile, my cousin's widow continues her quiet life in her beautiful facility.  She's about my age, 71.  She watches the squirrels outside her sunny window.  She takes herself down the hall and around the corner for her meals.  

She reads magazines but doesn't watch much news.

Probably no one has worried her with news of the new corona virus.

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