Attorney General Dana Nessel is ramping up efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that provides safety rules and procedures long-term care facilities must follow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive Order 2020-148 outlines protections for residents at more than 4,900 long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities.
The order bars facilities from evicting residents for nonpayment and mandates facilities cancel communal dining and group activities, implement disinfection and sanitation regimens, provide personal protective equipment to employees, inform employees of a COVID-19-positive patient and report presumed positive cases and additional data to their local health departments and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
“My office is prepared to continue our role of enforcing the law as this virus lingers and as Michigan’s most vulnerable populations remain at risk,” Nessel said. “The measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-148 to protect those vulnerable populations and the people who care for them must be followed.”
Nessel’s Health Care Fraud Division receives federal funding to investigate and prosecute alleged abuse and neglect of residents of long-term care facilities, including taking legal actions to address violations of this executive order.
Violators of this executive order could face a $500 fine and misdemeanor charge.
However, the division may only act in response to a formal complaint.
The division has been working with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to review reports of executive order violations since the orders were issued, however so far there has been no legal action taken in response to these reports.
LARA will refer complaints of violations of the executive order to the Health Care Fraud Division, which will review the complaint and determine whether additional steps must be taken.
“Our staff works with the employees and owners of Michigan’s long-term care facilities day in and day out and while I’m confident that the vast majority of them are doing things the right way, it is vital that we take action against those who are not following the rules,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks.
As of Monday, Michigan has recorded more than 2,000 resident deaths in long-term care facilities that have resulted from COVID-19 exposure, with around 7,800 positive COVID-19 cases emanating from people residing in those facilities. There have also been 22 deaths of staff members at long-term care facilities and more than 3,700 infected.
“Across Michigan, nursing home staff, residents and their families have made unprecedented sacrifices over the past four months to protect each other from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Their work has undoubtedly saved lives. However, if there are facilities in our state that are putting their residents and staff at risk by not following the rules, they must be held accountable.”