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Over two dozen nursing homes are reportedly under investigation by Italian government officials over allegations that their incompetence led to a “massacre” of elderly patients, though to hear some tell it, the ones deserving of scrutiny are the officials themselves.
As the coronavirus pandemic began ballooning out of control throughout Italy in early March, government officials began requesting that some COVID-19 patients from overwhelmed hospitals be transferred to nursing homes with empty beds.
On March 8th, the president of Italy’s Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, drafted a “regional resolution offering 150 euros ($163) to nursing homes for accepting Covid-19 patients to ease the burden on hospitals,” according to the Turkish state news broadcaster TRT World.
Covid-19 patients in Italy’s virus epicentre of Lombardy were transferred to nursing homes or other less equipped facilities by an official resolution very early in the pandemic. 1/3#Italy #nursinghomes #Italia #RSA #COVID19 #Lombardia #Italie #RegioneLombardia #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/TiGAm2dpbK
— The Dang News (@TheDangNews) April 23, 2020
This resolution provoked immediate concerns from the likes of Luca Degani, the president of the trade association UNEBA.
“These structures are made to let the elderly socialise and be provided with adequate care. They are not made to respond to an acute disease caused by a pandemic infection,” he said in a statement to TRT.
Despite concerns, coronavirus patients began being transferred to facilities. And as these transfers increased in quantity, so did the number of deaths being reported.
“[On April 24th], Silvio Brusaferro, chief of the Higher Health Institute (ISS), said that the ‘carnage’ in nursing homes all over Italy had claimed 7,000 victims since February, of which at least 40 percent died due to coronavirus,” TRT notes.
In a statement, Ranieri Guerra, the deputy director of the World Health Organization and a consultant with the Italian Ministry of Health, reportedly added that “[w]hat has happened and is still happening in residences for the elderly is a massacre.”
A preventable one that was reportedly exacerbated by the gross incompetence of both hospital administrators and nursing home officials.
Pietro La Grassa, a health worker from the Lombardy region, described incoming coronavirus patients being placed in non-COVID wards.
“[W]e were not afraid because we were told by the hospital administration that they were not infected,” he said. “Since then, the contagion has started spreading among doctors, nurses and health workers. In the blink of an eye, it reached, of course, the residents of the structure: the elderly.”
Yet it only got worse.
“We were forbidden to wear masks because they told us we would have frightened the guests of the structure,” he added. “Our hosts saw their relatives with masks, on television they heard that the epidemic kills them above all, yet health workers were forbidden to wear protection.”
Moreover, PPE orders were reportedly “seized and diverted from nursing homes to hospitals,” according to TRT, and this despite the crucial importance of wearing PPE amid the coronavirus pandemic:
It’s not clear who ordered the seizures.
“Due to the ineptitude of someone, we have become a hotbed of the disease,” La Grassa continued. “While it was immediately clear that elderly with pre-existing pathologies were the most vulnerable subjects in this epidemic, it was decided to turn care homes into Covid houses. We do not have intensive care and emergency rooms; what care could we provide?”
All fair questions. But who deserves the blame? Is it the nursing home officials who told workers to not wear masks, the hospital administrators who told them that incoming patients weren’t infected or the government officials like Fontana who thought that transferring patients from hospitals to nursing homes was a good idea?
All that’s known for certain is that manslaughter charges may eventually be filed against someone, according to Fox News’ “America’s News HQ.”
Listen (disable your adblocker if the video doesn’t appear):
One of the investigations is being spearheaded by Fontana, ironically enough.
“Lombardy regional Gov. Attilio Fontana said he had opened a commission of inquiry into the deaths at Milan’s Pio Albergo Trivulzio home, given published claims by a doctor and a union leader that management downplayed the risk of infection and wrongly attributed the causes of death,” the Associated Press reported earlier this month.
Meanwhile in the United States, some Democrat localities are beginning to implement the same policies that led to the nursing home crisis in Italy.
“California, New Jersey and New York have made nursing homes accept Covid-19 patients from hospitals. Residents and workers fear the policy is risking lives,” The New York Times reported Saturday.
“I don’t like them playing Russian roulette with my life,” New York nursing home resident Neal Nibur, 80, said to the Times. “It’s putting us at risk. I am 80 years old with underlying problems. Everybody here has an underlying problem.”
“Whoever made this decision, whoever did this, I consider this a sentence of death for all the older patients, whoever is in a nursing home,” Mina Ebrahem, a physical therapist who’s worked in multiple New York City nursing homes, added.
The story broke two days after The Wall Street Journal broke another story about how state officials had done virtually nothing after administrators at one overwhelmed nursing home in Brooklyn sent desperate emails begging them for help.
That nursing home, Cobble Hill Health Center, has reportedly suffered more coronavirus deaths than any other nursing home in the state.
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