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AARP Urges Families to Ask Nursing Homes COVID-19 Questions

With residents feeling especially isolated, AARP is calling on long-term care facilities to make sure they stay connected with family members. (Daniel/Adobe Stock)
With residents feeling especially isolated, AARP is calling on long-term care facilities to make sure they stay connected with family members. (Daniel/Adobe Stock)
May 6, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. -- AARP Oregon wants families with loved ones in nursing homes to consider asking more questions when working with facilities. Residents of long-term care facilities are one group known to be at higher risk from the new coronavirus.

As of mid-April, more than half of COVID-19 deaths in Oregon originated in these facilities. Elaine Friesen-Strang, volunteer state president of AARP Oregon, said that's why it's important to know where the virus is.

"We're really advocating that the names of facilities with confirmed cases must be made public on a daily basis," she said. "We need that information to make wise decisions."

Friesen-Strang said families should know if a resident, staff member or vendor at the facility has tested positive for COVID-19. She said facilities also need to keep families connected through virtual visits, since in-person meetings have been halted for now and many residents are feeling isolated.

AARP Oregon also wants families to ask about facilities' virus-prevention methods, if they have enough personal protective equipment for both staff and residents, and if they are at full staffing levels. Friesen-Strang said that includes nurses and aides -- and if they're short-staffed, inquire about plans to fill the gaps. She said AARP has been hearing from concerned families.

"It can be very frustrating to advocate for your loved one when you're not allowed to go visit," she said, "and we know just by the sheer age of folks who generally live in nursing homes, by their underlying medical conditions, that they are more at risk."

She added that if people are concerned about the safety of a loved one, they should reach out to Oregon's Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

AARP nursing home resources are online at aarp.org, and the Oregon LTC Ombudsman is at oltco.org.

Disclosure: AARP Oregon contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR