nursing homes

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives a press conference from his home in Cedarville.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Gov. Mike DeWine is sending a letter to all Ohio's nursing homes to make sure they're clear on the federal government's guidelines for visitations, which remain heavily restricted nearly a year into the pandemic.

The nursing home COVID-19 death toll jumped by nearly 1,300 in the last week, as the Ohio Department of Health added in 4,000 unaccounted-for deaths to the state’s running total. But with lower overall statewide case numbers and vaccines, visits to nursing homes are allowed and even being encouraged.

Ohio’s current COVID-19 hospitalizations and average new case numbers continued a downward slide on Thursday as more people receive vaccinations against the coronavirus.

Still, the virus remains widespread throughout the state, with all but four of Ohio’s 88 counties at the second highest alert level for viral spread.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state’s chief medical officer, urged Ohioans to continue wearing masks and maintaining physical distance from one another, particularly as new strains of the virus circulate.

Ohio has lifted its statewide curfew because the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has stayed below 2,500 for seven consecutive days, Gov. Mike DeWine announced at his coronavirus briefing Thursday. He said a curfew may be reinstated in the future, in particular if cases climb due to more contagious variants of the virus.

“It’s very important for us to continue to do what we've been doing,” he said. “Let's get the vaccine in our arms as quick as we can. But at the same time, we've got to continue to wear a mask. We've got to continue to keep the distancing.”

Crown Pointe Care Center resident Rebecca Meeker, left, rolls away from the table after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Meeker was the first long-term care patient in Ohio to receive a vaccine.
Jay LaPrete / Associated Press

COVID-19 cases and deaths appear to be on a downward trend around Ohio, and that extends to long-term care facilities as well.

In this March 6, 2020, photo, tissues, gloves, and masks greet visitors at the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, in Rockland, Mass.
David Goldman / Associated Press

More than half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are coming from nursing homes. Those and other long-term care facilities are getting a lot of attention in the new state budget.

It had been months since Tremellia Hobbs had an excuse to bring out the pompoms. Before the pandemic, they were a crowd favorite during movie nights and bingo tournaments that Hobbs organized as activities director at the nursing home.

A  73-year-old married couple from Akron and several others received faulty vaccines at an Ashtabula Walgreens store on Feb. 1 and will have to retake the shots, ideastream has learned.

The couple, who asked to remain anonymous, reached out to ideastream after hearing on Feb. 2 that residents at several local nursing homes in the area were given vaccines that may be ineffective due to improper storage.

Walgreens officials confirmed that the couple received vaccine doses that were left over from those given out at one of the affected long-term care facilities.  

Some patients at five nursing homes in Northeast Ohio will have to repeat their COVID-19 vaccinations after Walgreens informed the state that some doses weren't stored at the right temperature, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday.

Crown Pointe Care Center resident Rebecca Meeker, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Kate Latta, PharmD, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Meeker was the first long-term care patient in Ohio to receive a vaccine.
Jay LaPrete / Associated Press

More than half of nursing home workers have refused the vaccine but at least one Ohio nursing home is beating the odds.

Angela Smith can’t access her email – she has no computer, no tablet, no high-cost data plan and the library’s closed.

Smith, 48, is taking care of her 74-year-old mother, Minnie, in the Cedar Extension High-Rise senior apartments on East 30th Street, a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority building just down the street from Cleveland’s main post office. 

Angela has Type 2 diabetes and Minnie has rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, feet and hips. 

Crown Pointe Care Center resident Rebecca Meeker, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Kate Latta, PharmD, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Meeker was the first long-term care patient in Ohio to receive a vaccine.
Jay LaPrete / Associated Press

Ohio nursing homes have been one of the frontlines during the pandemic, and Gov. Mike DeWine has repeatedly raised concerns that many employees are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Gov. Mike DeWine holds a coronavirus press conference on September 15, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Gov. Mike DeWine said the next phase of Ohio's coronavirus vaccine distribution is expected to begin in two weeks, but the state is still dealing with a lack of supplies and concerns about eligible recipients refusing to be vacccinated.

Even as the first doses of vaccine arrive in nursing homes and assisted living communities, the COVID-19 death toll among residents and staff of these facilities continues climbing to staggering heights, with the final month of 2020 proving to be the deadliest of the pandemic for long-term care.

There were more than 5,600 deaths linked to long-term care in the last week of December.

Crown Pointe Care Center resident Rebecca Meeker, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Kate Latta, PharmD, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Meeker was the first long-term care patient in Ohio to receive a vaccine.
Jay LaPrete / Associated Press

Ohio’s nursing home residents and workers are among the first in the state to be offered the new COVID-19 vaccines. Most residents are taking it, but Gov. Mike DeWine says as many as 60% of nursing home employees are opting out.

Pages