Nursing homes preparing for coronavirus, one advocate doesn’t think enough is being done

Coronavirus
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Nursing homes are taking steps to protect their residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Nursing homes are taking steps to protect their residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wes Bledsoe, the founder of advocacy group A Perfect Cause, says agencies aren't doing enough to help nursing homes come up with a plan to combat the virus.

"We are not ready. People are going to die, people are going to die needlessly because we didn't prepare for this crisis. Every hour, every day that goes by, we're losing time," he said.

He says nursing homes aren't prepared or equipped to handle an outbreak.

"We need to protect the staff in these facilities. The staff does not have appropriate personal protective gear. The staff does not have sufficient protective gear," Bledsoe said.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department says they've been working closely with nursing homes.

"I know we spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to make sure that we message especially to the long term care centers, places like that, so they know what to do," Phil Maytubby, Director of Public Health Protection at OCCHD, said.

Nursing homes are taking different steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

At Windsor Hills Nursing Center and all nursing homes with the Diakonos Group, visitation has stopped as of Thursday.  They are working with families to communicate with loved ones through technology.

Anyone who goes into the building has to go through a disinfecting station.

"I think you have to err on the side of caution and remember that it's the healthy people that bring it in to these facilities," Antoine Smith, executive director of Windsor Hills Nursing Center, said.

At Bellevue Health and Rehabilitation Center, visitation has been limited to certain hours of the day. Anyone going in also has to go through a disinfecting station.

Both Bellevue and Windsor Hills feel they're ready.

"We have already prepared, and we have stocked up on essential necessities such as protective personal equipment for staff. So at this time, we feel good with the supplies that we have," Ashley Harrison, unit manager at Bellevue, said.

Both homes also say if a resident gets the virus, they'll be immediately isolated.

Despite efforts at those two nursing homes, Bledsoe wants state agencies to come up with a more organized plan to fight the virus, and he fears it's too late.

"We are dealing with a crisis and ignoring it; whistling by the graveyard is not going to solve this problem," Bledsoe said.

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