U.S. nursing home workers face risks caring for COVID-19 patients

World Today

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They’re among the biggest hot spots for the coronavirus: U.S. nursing homes.

​Data bases maintained by news agencies show residents and workers at long-term care facilities account for more than one-third of total U.S. deaths from COVID-19.

Further outbreaks affecting some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens​and those who care for them remain a major concern.

In early April, Carolene Quezada’s staffing agency told her to report to work at an Aurora, Colorado, nursing home.

Carolene said, “His words were, ‘they’re in dire straits, they need nurses out there… I would be taking care of healthy residents so that their staff could care for the COVID-19 positive patients.'”

Halfway through her shift, wearing a surgical mask but no other personal protective gear, her supervisor told her her residents weren’t healthy at all.

“It was just like, bring a nurse in, let’s just throw her into the fire and let her wing it and that’s pretty much what I did is wing it.” She added. 

Some nurses have stayed away from nursing homes to care for loved ones or out of concern for their own health, contributing to staffing issues. But many others have stuck it out and sometimes paid the price by getting sick themselves.

A​federal commission is now looking into what’s happened at U.S. nursing homes,​ with an eye to recommending improvements. ​This comes as more than a million residents and those who care for them remain at risk every day.