LANSING- Yesterday the Auditor General released a report on their audit for the number of COVID-19 deaths within long-term care facilities. As they revealed there were nearly 2,400 additional deaths than previously reported by MDHHS.
Many of the mainstream headlines have been reading “MDHHS Disagrees with Auditor General on COVID-19 Deaths” as MDHHS argues that information used by the Auditor General from Michigan Disease Surveillance System (MDSS) is designed for surveillance and not death investigations.
However, one big red flag that remains is the number of facilities, or lack thereof that are required to report.
Adult Foster Care Facilities, Homes for the Aged (HFA), and Hospice Facilities have a combined number of 1,393 facilities within the State of Michigan. But what about those that aren’t required to report? Between Adult Foster Care Facilities with 12 or less beds, exempt HFA’s, and Hospice HFA’s combined are 4,269 facilities. That’s over 53,145 beds unaccounted for.
If you notice above, what’s even more shocking is Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) are not even included in these numbers, as ALF’S were not required to report in the state of Michigan. With over 1,200 ALF’s in Michigan, why did MDHHS not require them to report?
According to the CDC’s website, 17 states that reported COVID-19 deaths in ALF’s(Assisted Living Facilities), the percentage of patients that died due to COVID-19 was 22%, compared to 2.5% of the general population.
Part of MDHHS determining a death from a long-term care facility criterion is if a patient didn’t have a negative COVID-19 test within 90 days of their death, that it would be recorded on their death certificate as probable due to COVID-19.
Not only that, but part of the World Health Organization’s definition of a death due to COVID-19 is a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness, in a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (i.e. trauma).
When MDHHS required only “certain” LTC facilities to report due to lack of licensing requirements, why didn’t they require all facilities to report that tend to our elderly?