According to a recent New York Times article, the Trump administration proposed loosening regulations that govern nursing homes. Many of the federal regulations at issue are designed to control the spread of deadly infections, such as COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus. New Hampshire nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide a variety of medical and personal care services to individuals who cannot manage their health and safety. Although many long-term care facilities (LTCF’s) fail to provide complete and accurate information, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year at these facilities. Infections often include deadly staph infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and urinary tract infections. These infections are the leading cause of hospitalization and death in the United States.
Years before coronavirus began ravaging the country’s nursing homes, LTCF’s were struggling to abide by the CDC’s necessary infection prevention regulations. These crucial regulations are critical in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria commonly found at these facilities. The CDC provides that staff and visitors at these facilities exhibit good infection and control techniques. These techniques include washing hands before and after touching residents, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, removing soiled textiles quickly and safely, and wearing personal protective equipment. Further, residents can take steps to prevent the spread of disease by thoroughly cleaning their hands before eating and use the restroom, ensuring that wounds are covered with bandages, covering their mouths with their elbows when sneezing or coughing, taking medication as prescribed, and following isolation directions.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services established increasingly stringent guidance for LTCFs. They are advising inspectors to investigate whether employees were following safety precautions thoroughly. However, this comes after the Trump administration’s proposal to relax nursing home rules. Although the relaxed rules may save the nursing home industry millions of dollars a year, the consequences can be dire and potentially fatal. These relaxed rules result in lower fines for LTCFs who violate safety rules.