As the COVID-19 pandemic winds down, statistics are starting to take shape as it pertains to the aftermath of a worldwide health crisis. Unpacking the numbers, particularly when it comes to the most vulnerable in our society, represents troubling and tragic trends.
Alarming numbers of lives lost
Considered “the most complete assessment of COVID-19 damage” in nursing homes nationwide saw a 32 percent increase in the number of Medicare patient deaths. The statistic represents a nearly 170,000 increase from the previous year. A Department of Health and Human Services inspector reported that four out of 10 recipients of Medicare benefits were or are likely to have been infected with the deadly virus.
Investigators expected the worst in their Initial predictions of nursing home deaths, knowing that facilities would be vulnerable to virus spreads. However, they were not prepared for the final numbers. In April of 2020 alone, nearly 82,000 Medicare patients passed away in nursing homes.
Tragically, efforts continued to increase testing and ramp-up protections, but not in time. Last December saw nearly 75,000 more deaths before the wide availability of the vaccines.
Breaking down nursing home residents by ethnicities compare 2020 deaths to 2019 fatalities:
- Deaths of Asian-Americans came in at 27 percent in 2020, an increase of 10 percent in 2019
- Hispanic and Black patients accounted for 23 percent of deaths in 2020, up from 15 percent in 2019
- The mortality of white nursing home residents increased from 18 percent in 2019 to 24 percent in 2020
A great deal will be written about the COVID-19 pandemic. What will stand out most in the history books are the countless deaths of elderly nursing home residents. The most vulnerable population that required the most help and protection were left in facilities where viruses were running rampant without family members at their side.
The sum total of those tragedies reveals the countless mistakes made and the lessons learned too late.