State Rep. Mary Whiteford, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, today supported a plan to rectify the governor’s fatal error that undoubtably contributed to the COVID-related deaths of more than 1,947 nursing home residents.
The mandate to put COVID-19 patients into long-term care facilities alongside uninfected residents was decided by the governor alone, without any legislative input.
“Residents are forced to worry day in and day out that they will contract COVID-19 from another individual placed in their facility following the governor’s orders,” said Whiteford, of Casco Township. “I’m proud to support this plan to rectify the governor’s careless actions.”
The legislative plan requires the state’s Health and Human Services Department (DHHS), along with the state department for Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, to complete an evaluation and report of the current policies regarding COVID-19 patients and nursing homes by Aug. 15.
Additionally, the legislation requires DHHS to develop and implement a new plan by Sept. 1 creating at least one dedicated regional facility within each of the state’s eight health regions for use as COVID-19 patient facilities.
Finally, Senate Bill 956, unlike the governor’s plan, protects nursing home residents by prohibiting the placement of individuals with COVID-19 in any long-term care facility unless it has a separate dedicated building where affected patients can be properly quarantined and cared for.
“This is about standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,” Whiteford said. “This virus has had a tragic impact on our elderly population, especially those living in nursing homes. They deserve a voice in this unprecedented time.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
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