The Christian Science Monitor

How could nursing homes have done better?

A sign supporting essential workers sits near the entrance of RegalCare, a nursing home that has been dealing with COVID-19 cases, on July 21, 2020 in Southport, Connecticut. Source: Ann Hermes/Staff

As Melinda Haschak responded to the Code Blue that blared through the intercom, she was missing a crucial piece of information.

The resident she was rushing to save had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Ms. Haschak knew that some of the residents in the Connecticut nursing home where she works as a licensed nurse had tested positive. But the fellow nurse who could have helped her most – who had begun to piece together the larger picture, who knew the resident in distress had tested positive, and whose concerns had been dismissed by management – was at home, recovering from the coronavirus herself. 

Before falling ill, Kennethe Polissaint had noticed that the first resident who tested positive and died in the hospital had never left the facility – meaning the nursing home staff itself was unwittingly spreading the virus and should be tested. Yet when she told the assistant director of nursing, a registered nurse, “they didn’t do anything about it,” Ms. Polissaint says. 

Ms. Haschak was not able to save the Code Blue resident, who never regained consciousness. 

And afterward, the senior nurses who oversee infection control didn’t send her home to isolate. Instead, she went back to her wing, which was supposed to be COVID-19-free.  

Two weeks later, Ms. Haschak fell ill with COVID-19. 

The pattern that played out in

Importance of registered nursesInside one nursing homeA different experienceNot just a “bad apples” problemThe effects of nursing levelsMore than a pizza party

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