On behalf of Indiana’s long-term care industry, I wanted to respond to the Carmel mayor’s recent threat of reckless homicide charges against any local long-term care facility that does not test its employees for COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top priority for testing is hospitalized patients and health care workers with symptoms, which is being well-addressed. Following federal guidance, we should make every effort to next test patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms and other patients over 65, or those with underlying conditions with symptoms.
With this information, those patients can be more precisely cared for, properly segmented between non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 positive settings and referred to acute medical care when the need arises – just as the CDC and state health department have advised to be done. We have significantly under-tested these critical patient populations, yet based on the data, they have the highest mortality rates.
I believe the mayor’s heart is in the right place, but his tactics are misguided. Threat of criminal prosecution is not appropriate. Frontline caregivers are afraid for their freedom and safety – I have heard it. I invite him to join us in extolling the heroic work that is being done and to support adherence to guidance from our national and state public health efforts.
Zachary I. Cattell, president of the Indiana Health Care Association and Indiana Center for Assisted Living