From the New York Times Opinion Page:
The Coronavirus Is Killing Too Many Nursing Home Residents
Here’s one idea for protecting them.
By Tyson Belanger
Dr. Belanger owns an assisted living center in Connecticut.
May 3, 2020
… With adequate funding from government and charitable sources, we could pay caregivers to live on-site at the nursing homes and assisted living centers where they work. This would ensure that they do not interact with infected people and then bring the virus into our centers. I instituted this policy on March 22.
The result has been promising; we have yet to have a confirmed case of Covid-19 among our residents or staff. But I cannot afford it for much longer, and many other senior care centers could not afford to even start such a program. …
I am paying $15,000 monthly to on-site aides and $20,000 to nurses.
So that is $180,000 per year for aides and $240,000 per year for nurses, plus the cost of trailers, and probably food.
But would somebody who takes $15,000 to be isolated from their home and loved ones for one month take $180,000 for 12 months? One month sounds like a way to make some money, one year sounds like a way to get divorced.
Here’s the story of 43 men who worked at the Braskem factory in Pennsylvania making raw material for face masks who locked themselves in for 28 days straight so they wouldn’t be distracted by the chance of infections. Working 84 hours per week for four weeks, they made enough raw material for 500 million N95 facemasks.
This was an all male crew. My guess is that you can get men to sign up for these kind of locked-in jobs more easily than you can women, who usually have more family responsibilities. How long you can get female care workers to lock themselves in, I don’t know.
My business cannot afford this. Altogether, I have drawn loans from my personal savings of about half a million dollars. We have also been approved for $343,243 from the Payroll Protection Program.
He rented trailers to sit in the parking lot for his locked-in staff to live in.
We should view on-site caregiving as an essential public good and invest funds so more senior homes can do it. If Connecticut pays $25,000 per week in matching payroll funds to all of its roughly 365 nursing homes and assisted living centers for six weeks, this would cost taxpayers nearly $55 million. Not every home or caregiver will agree to do it, but we should provide the financial support to make it financially viable for all.
Hard to figure out what that would cost nationally, but it sounds like it could significantly bring down the death rate.