Trump nursing home plan limits supply of free COVID-19 tests

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: The government won’t supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds.

A program that sounded like a game changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff represent a tiny share of the U.S. population but account for as many as 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths, according to some estimates.

“I think the biggest fear is that the instruments may be delivered but it won’t do any good, if you don’t have the test kits,” said George Linial, president of LeadingAge of Texas, a branch of a national group representing nonprofit nursing homes and other providers of elder care.

The weekly

Read More

Continue Reading

Hospital Merger in Washington State Stokes Fears About Catholic Limits on Care

The proposed merger of a well-regarded secular hospital system and a larger Roman Catholic system in Washington state has triggered new alarms about religious restrictions on patients’ access to care.

Virginia Mason Health System and CHI Franciscan announced plans in mid-July to form a joint operating company including 12 hospitals and more than 250 other treatment sites in the Puget Sound region and the Yakima area in central Washington. They touted the deal as a way to improve care.

But the plan was unclear on whether the secular hospitals could continue to offer services forbidden by church doctrine, including abortion, birth control, gender confirmation surgery and physician aid in dying, which is legal in Washington.

These questions keep arising across the country because Catholic conglomerates are some of the largest hospital systems in the U.S. — with four Catholic systems ranked in the top seven — and they frequently gobble

Read More

Continue Reading

Dentists are back in Pennsylvania (with a big condition, and some big limits)

Dentistry is back. Kind of.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said during her daily COVID-19 news briefing Friday that she is releasing guidance that would permit some non-emergency dental practice to resume statewide – with one big caveat:

Levine said the new orders state that dentists must provide personal protective equipment to all participating staff in accordance with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control infection prevention guidelines, and the emphasis is to be on procedures that don’t produce heavy spray from a patient’s mouth.

Most dentists in the state have been providing care for dental emergencies only since mid-March, as Gov. Tom Wolf started ordering business closures to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Under the new guidance, a Health Department spokesman said Friday afternoon, practices could be expanded to cover things like orthodontic work or root canals, but not routine cleanings.

Read More

Continue Reading