State Encourages Hospitals To Transfer COVID Patients To Nursing Homes, Bolstering Death Rate

State officials defend the practice of transferring COVID patients into nursing homes to preserve hospital beds, even as hospitals nationwide lay mostly empty.

Dozens of patients infected with coronavirus have been transferred out of hospitals and back into their nursing homes in Minnesota, which has likely contributed to the state’s disproportionate number of nursing home related deaths from the virus.

Nearly 80% of the 748 Minnesotans who have succumbed to coronavirus resided in a nursing home or assisted living facility as of May 19. No other state can attribute such a staggering percentage of its COVID-19 related deaths to nursing homes alone, according to analysis from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. Despite this, state regulators are still allowing hospitals to discharge dozens of patients infected with the virus from the hospital back into their nursing home.

For example, even as North Ridge Health and Rehab in New Hope lost a staggering 48 of its 320 residents to the virus, it continued to accept 42 more infected patients, per the Star Tribune.

Despite tragic cases like North Ridge, state health officials have defended the practice of transferring active COVID-19 cases to nursing homes in the name of conserving hospital space. “Hospital beds are a key resource during this pandemic, and they must be preserved for those who are in need of acute care,” says the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Meanwhile, most hospitals around America are actually empty, hemorrhaging money and at risk of going out of business for lack of patients, per Newsweek. Mayo Clinic said that in April, it lost 75% of its business in some areas. This forced the world famous hospital to slash $1.4 billion in pay for its employees.

In light of this, State Senator Karin Housley, the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee says hospitals need to do keep senior citizens infected with COVID-19 in the hospital for the safety of Minnesota’s elderly population at large.

“It makes no sense to bring more COVID-19 patients into facilities that have already failed to protect them,” she says, via the Tribune.

On the other hand, Joseph Gaugler, a professor of long-term care and aging in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health seems to suggest that its up to the elderly patients who have coronavirus to keep nursing homes safe. “If a nursing facility isn’t following best practices, then [coronavirus] patients should go elsewhere,” he says, per the Tribune.