LANSING- Today there was a joint oversight committee to question the Office of the Auditor General and the MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel of their reports and conflicting information of nursing home deaths related to COVID-19.
The Auditor General used in part the MDSS (Michigan Disease Surveillance System) addresses for deaths, however, there’s controversy involved with this. The MDHHS director Hertel stated that the information from MDSS is only to be used as a reference.
The Auditor General states the addresses they matched up were derived from COVID-19 positive lab results, then onto local health departments to learn more about that case. If someone put their home address versus facility (long term care facility) address, it would have fallen thru the cracks. There are no reports after October 2020, nor did the AG’s office have a list of Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) since they are not licensed and were not required to report deaths to the state. Although in our previous report, there is and estimated 1,200 ALF’s within the State of Michigan.
Chair Steve Johnson stated the reason for the questioning is because of governor Whitmer’s executive order 50. That COVID-19 positive patients were put into nursing homes and that this was a “deadly decision” and that 8000 by definition has to be low.
The Auditor General stated they started with MDHHS’s numbers of those that had COVID-19 and recovered. They made sure to match up the address of the nursing home facility. The AG also stated a simple checkmark in the MDSS’s database saying they live in a facility was not sufficient to add to their numbers.
The Director of MDHHS Elizabeth Hertel stated that what the AG has is not comparable to what they have yet deflected question from many. She also argued with Chair Johnson about contacting facilities that were not required to report just to get data, that it would be an intrusion of privacy.
This angered Representative Hoitenga (District 102) as she responded about there not being any accountability in this state. That this is insulting to blame past administrations. “Money, money, money will fix everything, but it will not fix bad policy. Literally, we were doing contract tracing, and you’re concerned about privacy?” It was mentioned by Representative O’Malley during the meeting that dead people don’t care about privacy.
Representative O’Malley stated, “Follow the science and data, this is the data. We were putting COVID positive people into facilities with old sick people. Did you call any of these places? You don’t have all the data, that is what the people of Michigan have a problem with. Why didn’t you ask the little guys that aren’t reporting? did anybody ask? It sounds like you said no. Then we have major problems.” Chair Johnson also agreed stating there’s an issue with patient privacy, but they can’t get any death data?
Many senators and representatives questioned the Executive Order by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and there’s still many questions as to why Assisted Living Facilities and smaller long term care facilities were not included, and why they were not called to check at a minimum in regard to their death statistic numbers.
And this all happened the same day that the MDHHS issued an order ensuring nursing homes across the state offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination to protect residents.
This all reeks too much of what happened with New York’s governor Cuomo, what do you think?
We were able to interview Representatives Steve Carra and Chair Steve Johnson below:
See Full Hearing Below: