Letter: When will state start caring about lives of those in nursing homes? | Letters To The Editor

Letter: When will state start caring about lives of those in nursing homes? | Letters To The Editor

I am writing in regards to the AP article concerning a Brewster farm ordered to pay more than $2 million for health violations that resulted in two COVID deaths that appeared in Aug. 5’s edition.

Although I am very, very pleased to see they were ordered to make these major, much-needed improvements to their workers living quarters, it breaks my heart that our state does not appear to care about the plight of our elderly in nursing homes. People in nursing homes have no choice but to live there due to their health and have to pay to live in these places. This isn’t a job, this is the sad reality of their lives.

In July 2020, my husband and 15 others perished in our local nursing home in about a three-week period due to COVID. The residents were and still are forced to live two and three to a room, with three to four to a single toilet/sink. Only flimsy curtains separate the beds (say goodbye to social distancing). DSHS found them to have been in the worst condition — Immediate Jeopardy Status — for over 30 days before and during the outbreak. They literally brought COVID in the door with their disregard for human life.

Do you know what that nursing home was ultimately fined? $21,295 total and they get a 35% discount if they don’t appeal. Sixteen people died and they get a discount? That makes their fine $13,842 total. The facility was not forced to make one single change to the overcrowding and unsafe conditions. The slumlord owners pay the puny fine and pinky swear to be good and that’s it.

My question? Does anyone care about the plight of nursing home patients? Why is their loss of life, endangerment and horrific living conditions not even as close to being as important as farmworkers in Brewster? They are not employees — they are patients. When will our state and our country actually do something about this situation? More than seven times as many patients died as did on this one farm. Over 2,700 of our total COVID deaths in Washington have occurred in nursing homes and the owners get a slap on the wrist and free reign to admit more people to a completely unsafe environment with no changes to the overcrowding, understaffing, insufficient testing or facility. When will those lives matter? When?

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