Nursing home advocates demand Gov. Mike DeWine take more action during pandemic

Nursing home advocates demand Gov. Mike DeWine take more action during pandemic

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A nursing home advocacy group is calling on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to come up with a new plan as the pandemic stretches on.

Elderly Advocates, a Cleveland-based nonprofit, believes residents are more at risk every day.

The group is asking for a long-term plan from the governor when it comes to handling coronavirus, for nursing home residents and families.

Elderly Advocates Founder Paula Mueller said outdoor nursing home visitations aren’t happening for a lot of families, and there needs to be a solution as soon as possible.

It's been just over two weeks since outdoor visits started at many nursing homes across Ohio..

Families were unable to see their loved ones in-person for months as coronavirus ripped through many facilities.

And many families are still waiting for the day when they can visit.

“I don’t see any improvement, any changes, any progress. And we can’t keep ignoring this,” Mueller said.

She said the urgency to do something is growing every day.

At least 2,429 nursing home residents have died from Covid-19, according to the latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Health.

At least 2,060 residents have died since April 15, not counting 369 residents ODH confirmed died before that date.

“The families first were patient, and willing to work with everybody, and they were told that visiting had to stop to protect them, and they kind of knew that things had to be figured out,” Mueller said.

She said temporary solutions are not enough as flu season approaches and Ohio sees an uptick in Covid-19 cases.

“These residents won’t make it. They’re already declining, they’re losing weight. The isolation of not seeing visitors. It just seems like things seem to be off on a bad track,” Mueller said.

Mueller just sent several letters to the governor.

Her main concern is protections being taken away from residents, including no plans for short-staffing and no in-person oversight.

Elderly Advocates is asking for two immediate steps to be taken.

“We really want to see one family member go in all the time in protective gear. There’s never going to be a right time. It’s going to be a Covid case, it’s going to be community outbreak,” Mueller said.

The second step she is asking for is a new nursing home task force with family members on it.

Elderly Advocates also re-sent Gov. DeWine a petition from April, asking for real-time cameras in resident rooms, put in by families.

“Give families real hope. Saying they’re going to be able to visit July 20 and most not being able to-- it almost feels like we’re being told things to pacify us,” Mueller said.

“We have to be seen and we have to be heard, and we cannot be ignored anymore,” she said.

Mueller said their next step, if nothing changes, is to start doing rallies and pickets at nursing homes that aren't allowing visitors.

She said they won't be silent with so many lives on the line.

19 Investigates reached out to Governor DeWine’s office for a response before it was announced he tested positive for Covid-19 Thursday.

We have not heard back yet.

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