Perspective on the numbers after 276 nursing home residents die from COVID-19 in two weeks

Perspective on the numbers after 276 nursing home residents die from COVID-19 in two weeks

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 276 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 in Ohio in the last 14 days, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

You can see those numbers broken down by county for yourself here.

Those numbers are just a glimpse of what nursing homes are dealing with during the pandemic.

There have been just under 3,000 cases of COVID-19 among nursing home residents and staff in 14 days.

ODH is updating the latest numbers here every Wednesday.

We're looking at why those numbers seem so high, and what families can do to keep their loved ones safe.

The most resident cases of COVID-19 at long term care facilities in Ohio have been in Lorain County at O'Neill Healthcare North Ridgeville assisted living and its nursing home.

Combined, there have been 71 residents and 34 staff members there diagnosed with COVID-19 in two weeks, starting on April 15.

The next highest overall resident cases in northeast Ohio during that time period was at Ohman Family Living at Briar in Geauga County, where 58 residents tested positive for the virus.

Westpark Neurology and Rehab Center in Cuyahoga County had 57 cases.

Emily Muttillo is an applied researcher with The Center for Community Solutions, a local non-partisan think tank.

“Really the very nature of the way long term care facilities and congregate living facilities are designed and the function they serve, means people are in close proximity to each other and at times using shared spaces,” she said.

She is not surprised by the numbers. Most residents have pretty severe health conditions and testing in nursing homes has been a priority.

“So we see the clusters emerging in long term facilities. That doesn't mean there's necessarily more cases there than in the general population, I think what it means is more testing is happening there,” Muttillo said.

So what should families do? Muttillo said don't take your loved ones out of their nursing home.

You should ask them important questions.

“What they're doing to communicate with families when there is an outbreak within the facility, and then what sort of infection control measures they're taking,” she said.

And don’t blame staff members.

“We need to be supportive of the people in those facilities. We need to be supportive of the staff. They’re going into the facilities every day and caring for the people that we love and care about. And so showing them support, whether that’s through making sure they have the proper PPE, giving them thanks or sending them notes or cards, those things really do make a difference and can help boost morale, which then helps the residents as well,” Muttillo said.

Advocates recommend calling and checking on a family member if they’re in a nursing home.

They could feel isolated without visitors and social gatherings and that can affect their health.

We reached out to the Ohio Department of Health to see how many nursing home residents normally pass away in these facilities in a 2-week time period, to compare that to the number of deaths we are seeing from COVID-19.

They told us they did not collect that information before this pandemic unless a death was part of a complaint investigation.

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