American Prospect: The Corporatization of Nursing Homes

October 20, 2020 COVID-19 EconomyHealthcareOp-ed

Maureen Dittmar of Rochester, New Hampshire, was sifting through junk mail one Saturday in early August when she found an envelope obviously sent by a human being. It began: “The content of this letter may be hard to hear … But you deserve to know the truth.” The anonymous author was a staffer at her mother’s nursing home.

Dittmar’s rush of cortisol was familiar. Every day for months, the virus had engulfed another crop of facilities. Residents are elderly, frail, and housed in close quarters; they are sitting ducks for a pandemic. By mid-September, the nationwide death toll from long-term care facilities had reached more than 77,000 residents and staff, 40 percent of the country’s total. For some reason, New Hampshire had only lost a relatively small number, but Dittmar knew better than to believe everything she was told, or assume they were out of the woods.