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WI Residents Urged to Check Nursing Home Safety Protocols

According to USA Today, the coronavirus has been found in at least 2,300 of the nation's nursing homes. (Adobe Stock)
According to USA Today, the coronavirus has been found in at least 2,300 of the nation's nursing homes. (Adobe Stock)
April 23, 2020

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin health officials say there have been more than 400 coronavirus cases in group housing facilities, including nursing homes, with at least 79 deaths.

That has prompted calls for people to contact long term care facilities and check on the safety of loved ones.

The urging comes from AARP Wisconsin. State Director Sam Wilson says AARP issued a list of questions for people to ask when talking with nursing home officials.

"For example, one question is, 'Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?'" he says. "A follow-up to that is, 'What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?'"

Wilson says it's also important to ask if the facility has any personal protective gear, and if it's being used.

AARP says the state is beginning to share more pandemic data as it relates to nursing homes, but Wilson says AARP would like even more transparency.

In a statement, health services officials say data on group housing for half of the cases is unknown right now because it has only been systematically collected since April 8.

The department says it will keep looking for ways to provide data that doesn't compromise privacy information.

Wilson says if you're concerned over a facility's safety protocols and are not getting enough details, following up with the state Board on Aging and its ombudsman program is the best course of action.

"Those are individuals who are professional in examining situations within long term care facilities, making sure that they're compliant," he states.

The suggested list of questions for nursing homes can be found on the AARP's website and its COVID-19 page. The state health department has guidance on its website, too.

Disclosure: AARP Wisconsin contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI