Transparency should be the rule, not the exception. Only two states disclose senior living facilities with coronavirus infections. COVID-19 inside senior living requires transparency. But there’s no coordinated comprehensive data or effort to protect residents or staff. Secrecy, often behind the excuse of privacy, is the standard. Not transparency.

Senior Living Ground Zero for Many Local Outbreaks

As a result? COVID-19 is running rampant in these facilities. A large share of total coronavirus cases trace back to congregate senior facilities of various types. We cannot contain the spread without addressing senior living. The Kirkland disaster highlights the problem both within a facility and the impact on the surrounding community.

Secrecy Kills

Privacy is protecting operators, not lives. We need more focus on protecting the most vulnerable and the staff that serves them. Good data. Transparency is essential. And adequate testing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), infection control training, and emergency staff support. Policymakers and operators are falling behind the curve. The senior living industry prefers secrecy and now the lack of transparency is killing residents, endangering staff, and will bankrupt facilities and operators. It’s a nightmare for residents and families. And an existential threat to an industry. Crisis froze the industry and its regulators like deer in the headlights. Stuck in old habits of secrecy to prevent data-based cross-shopping or market accountability.

WSJ Highlights the Threat

The Wall Street Journal highlights the problem in a recent article. This experience will color the reputation for senior living just as baby boomers plan for retirement. Boomers already had a strong preference for aging-in-place. The industry’s coronavirus track record will leave a deep mark on consumer perceptions. https://on.wsj.com/2XDWotd

COVID-19 senior living transparency is a must for trust and an effective response to the crisis. Transparency is not what residents or family are getting from most operators or state regulators. Secrecy is. As a result, most state and federal policymakers have a blindspot in their coronavirus response planning. Hiding the truth hurts everyone.


Additions/Updates

6/1/2020 CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) will post the underlying CDC-collected data on a link on Nursing Home Compare later this week, so the public can view general information of how COVID-19 has impacted nursing homes in a user-friendly format. The data will be broken down by state, number of residents and number of staff.  The data will be searchable by facility name and will be downloadable so researchers and other stakeholders can perform their own in-depth analysis.  CMS will update the data weekly. CMS will also post a link to the data on the home page of the Nursing Home Compare website so patients, residents, and families can easily find it. Nursing Home Compare is a valuable tool for patients, residents, and families to understand the quality of nursing homes and to support their healthcare decisions. Adding this information only increases its value and reinforces CMS’s commitment to transparency.

https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-unveils-enhanced-enforcement-actions-based-nursing-home-covid-19-data-and

6/1/2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Trump Administration Unveils Enhanced Enforcement Actions Based on Nursing Home COVID-19 Data and Inspection Results

Early analysis shows that facilities with a one-star quality rating were more likely to have large numbers of COVID-19 cases than facilities with a five-star quality rating. (6/1/2020)

https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-unveils-enhanced-enforcement-actions-based-nursing-home-covid-19-data-and

5/11/2020 Argentum Calls for Transparency in COVID-19 State Reporting

4/29/2020 Senior Housing News: Covid-19:‘We Have to Get Ahead of This’: Amid Bad Press, Senior Living Providers Must Be Transparent