Thank you for the wonderful article "Why won’t counties report workplace COVID-19 outbreaks to the public?" (Sept. 2)
This is a very significant problem in our community, as well. As a senior care advocate, I received phone calls from a family member who needs information on what senior care facilities are reporting COVID-19, and whether these congregate facilities are "safe." I also provide some services to people recently discharged from nursing homes and believe my own personal health can be endangered by not knowing that the person I am picking up from a nursing home, or has been recently sent home, has been exposed to COVID-19, or other infectious diseases.
This is a public health issue, and we are in the midst of a pandemic. Protecting the identity of the businesses experiencing hotspots puts many other people at risk.
What is most significant is that this is a personal policy decision made by our political community. Protecting business information is not a law, nor an obligation. Los Angeles County, for example, is totally transparent and makes this information available to the public. I am most distressed that some of our local assisted livings and board and care homes are not transparent with this information.
The industry providing services to older adults must set their "business first" mindset aside and take a look at the reality that this population is most at risk and it is a "public right to know" issue for those of us in the world of eldercare. I had one daughter tell me that after she signed the paperwork admitting her dad to a nursing home for hospice care, was told that staff members had "just" been found COVID-19 positive and she might never see her dad again.
With COVID-19. there is a risk of never seeing or touching a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living, or board and care home, again.
People have a right to know this upfront. We all have personal rights to make other decisions for our loved ones. I know that even a Norovirus outbreak can close down a facility for a month or so. It's often happened in our community, and we are greeted with a "No Admittance" sign on the door.
I expect COVID-19 will be around for a very long time, and as we adjust to this reality, we also need to become reasonable with increased transparency and honesty about outbreaks. I would rather know that a facility had an outbreak, controlled it, and everyone is back to normal than these facts being hidden behind closed doors. It would actually make me trust them more in the care of my loved one. Trust is an issue, and transparency is the answer.
As a California Senior Senator representing Napa and Solano counties, I am introducing a proposal to the Legislature specifically asking for increased transparency from our senior care providers. The public must be heard on this issue.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.