It is no secret that the CoVid-19 pandemic has brought enormous hurt and fatalities all across the United States. An issue that has not gotten adequate attention, is the impact it has caused on older people being served by nursing homes. With the weight of this crisis persisting, we had the pleasure of interviewing Nadia Kiderman, a healthcare professional with decades of experience navigating the waters of patient care for the elderly.
One of the issues we were particularly interested in was how elder care facilities could utilize any of the many advancements in digital and social media to mitigate the loss of life and incredible devastation this pandemic has wrought on the residents of their facilities.
Lindsay: We know how busy your schedule is, especially during these precarious times, and appreciate you taking the time to sit down and share your insights with our readers.
Nadia Kiderman: It’s my pleasure. Raising public awareness of what’s presently taking place to our population’s most vulnerable is a public service. And I must say, the media deserves a great deal of recognition and praise for the pivotal role they have played in highlighting the awful plight of residents in so many assisted living and nursing home facilities across the nation. This is truly a tragic situation that has proved devastating and fatal for our nation’s most vulnerable. They are a segment of the population that we ought to be taking every extra precaution imaginable to protect. They are not to be neglected, under any circumstances whatsoever.
Lindsay: Following the guidance of regulators, advocates for the rights of residents have been precluded from visiting facilities to monitor the situation. What are your thoughts on this development?
Nadia Kiderman: There is no question that these are unprecedented times that in some cases necessitate unprecedented precautions. Having said that, we as a society and those advocating on behalf of residents more generally, cannot afford to allow this development to lead to mistreatment on the part of the staff of nursing homes.
Lindsay: How do you manage the balance between protecting the health of monitors and patient advocates while still ensuring that there is nevertheless some oversight of residents in these facilities?
Nadia Kiderman: There’s no question that it’s a delicate balance. But nonetheless, it’s one that we have to invest far more effort into striking. The need for ensuring residents’ safety and health are preserved is paramount.
Lindsay: Over two million people live in roughly 45,000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities; what portion of these residents would you say are being mistreated?
Nadia Kiderman: While many in the industry do strive for providing the highest quality of care, it’s natural that less inspections and limited oversight leads to a destructive combination. Having said that, this is of course a situation where the health and safety of visitors and monitors has to be taken into account as well.
Lindsay: Of course, during the current crisis, it’s incredibly important that measures are taken into account in order to identify and monitor the spread and reporting of Covid-19 outbreaks within assisted living facilities. What are some procedures that you might recommend?
Nadia Kiderman: Many states have already imposed requirements on nursing homes to inform residents and their loved ones of any Covid-19 cases in the facilities. Those cases are similarly required to be reported to the CDC. This data is also being made publicly available, which is equally important so that we’re able to monitor the situation on a national and state-wide scale.
Lindsay: What are the types of nursing home inspections that CMS is affording patient advocates and others?
Nadia Kiderman: Nursing home inspections are focusing on the control of infections and those incidents that are being categorized as “ immediate jeopardy,” which account for the most serious of violations. Having said that, it’s important that your readers know that most nursing health violations are regarded as “less severe”, and many unfortunately do involve serious and in some cases devastating harm to residents.
Lindsay: Even during these frightening times that surely necessitate the sort of restrictive measures that have been put on families’ abilities to see their loved ones; are there still some sort of alternative routes that families can take to communicate with their loved ones?
Nadia Kiderman: There are some nursing homes that are allowing window visits, that provide families the ability to have face-to-face interaction with their loved ones inside the home. Unfortunately though because of the health dangers posed by this situation, even those are being severely limited. Of course, many nursing homes are connecting residents and their families through facetime, zoom and other similar technologies. Unfortunately that is not an adequate solution to most families; and understandably so. But then again, these are unprecedented times. Let’s hope this crisis ends soon, for all parties involved.