Families weigh the risks of sending a loved one to a nursing home during the coronavirus pandemic

Data analysis and Graphics by Cid Standifer 

In early March, just as Ohioans were learning about the first cases of novel coronavirus in the state, Anna Bondar’s grandfather fell at his Cleveland home. Luckily, the 92-year old, who lives with dementia, wasn’t injured badly. The tight-knit family started to discuss the possibility of a nursing home, though they had serious reservations. Their tough choice was made even more difficult by mounting fears about the coronavirus.  In nearly four months, COVID-19  has infected more than 31,191 people statewide and has proven particularly deadly for residents of long-term care facilities in Ohio. Seventy percent of the reported deaths in Ohio due to COVID-19 complications have been in long-term care facilities, which is among the highest in the country. 

Nationally the portion of COVID-19-related deaths in long-term care facilities has hovered just over 40%, though the amount of testing done in nursing homes varies significantly by state. 

Every day, families like Bondar’s are making what can feel like an impossible choice – whether to send a loved one to a nursing home where they will receive around-the-clock specialized care but face a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, or to care for that person at home where risk of transmission is lower but providing care can be more challenging. 

Even before the pandemic, sorting through the myriad of quality ratings and measures was daunting enough.

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