Nursing homes impacted by COVID outbreaks, staffing woes

Virus Outbreak Nursing Home Vaccines
Posted at 4:10 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 20:40:08-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nursing homes across the state are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks while also juggling staffing shortages.

Marlene Greenlee called NewsChannel 5 because she's worried about her friend at Ahava Healthcare in Clarksville. "Very scary, I have COVID right now, so it’s not like I can go over there and check," Greenlee said.

The state's website which tracks long-term care facility data said Ahava Healthcare has had 23 residents and 19 staff members test positive and one resident died in the last 28 days.

"He said he didn’t have water, a call button, even a urinal the other day when I called him," Greenlee said.

Other long-term care facilities are in the same boat. The Quality Center for Rehabilitation and Healing in Lebanon reported 49 residents and 76 staff members who tested positive and 14 resident deaths in the last 28 days.

At NHC Healthcare Dickson, 72 residents and 50 employees have tested positive and 16 residents have died in the last 28 days. However, NHC counts cases daily according to a spokesperson. They said the cases have gone down over recent days and as of Friday there is only one or two positive residents and 18 employees positive.

1/14/2022 COVID case counts
State COVID-19 count at long term care facilities 1/14/2022

On top of that, people are leaving the caregiver industry for higher-paying jobs. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, the profession lost more than 230,000 caregivers, 15% of the workforce, since the beginning of the pandemic.

Greenlee hopes government officials will take action to provide care for vulnerable residents. "They have to, first of all, improve the pay for the nurses," Greenlee said.

The Tennessee Department of Health said upcoming staffing assistance funding is on the way, but they don't know when that will be available to help with the crisis.

We reached out to Ahava Healthcare and The Quality Center for Rehabilitation and Healing but did not hear back.