ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY - Public Hearing Before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services


Y'all, we have an opportunity to make known our thoughts to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services regarding COVID-19 policies that affected the patient-doctor relationship. I invite each of you to attend this hearing or attempt to submit written testimony. Three issues immediately come to mind that tie directly to how pandemic policies affect long-term care facilities. I'm sure I'll think of more. Since we only have TWO MINUTES to speak, the bulk of my remarks will be in writing. If there are policies you would like to see addressed by the committee but cannot testify, feel free to mention them here. REMINDER: we are not here to fault facilities. This post is about pandemic policies that hospitals and long-term care facilities were required to follow AND how those policies affected our loved ones living in long-term care. Facility bashing will be deleted and you may be also. MY RECOMMENDATIONS: Recommendation #1 Prevent waivers to a resident's right to in-person doctor visits and hospice visits in long-term care facilities. CMS waived the requirement for physicians and non-physician practitioners to perform in-person visits for nursing home residents and allowed visits to be conducted via telehealth options which were inappropriate and wholly ineffective for many/most dementia patients, residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and veterans with traumatic brain injuries. This waiver is only JUST NOW being lifted as of June 6, 2022. We also know that telehealth visits do not work for cardiovascular and neurological issues in general. It's ludicrous that residents with intellectual disorders and disabilities were forced to participate in telehealth visits and their in-person doctor visits were denied. Recommendation #2 Make sure long-term care residents are never again prevented at a facility's discretion from leaving the facility for medical reasons like dental appointments, colonoscopies, mammograms, oncology appointments, and other visits that were deemed "routine" and "non-essential" during the pandemic and delayed to the detriment of a resident's health. I don't know how it was legal or under what waivers but residents were prevented from leaving facilities and consequently suffered from undetected and escalating conditions and diseases directly related to lack of preventive care outside the facility due to pandemic protocols. Recommendation #3 In-person hospital visitation must be addressed much the way long-term care visitation was addressed in SB25. Visitation is regulated by hospital policy and varies across the state. Incapacitated people went into ER's with no voice and no advocacy while many family members watched from the parking lot as a loved one was unloaded from an ambulance. Long-term care residents made ER visits with nobody to make medical decisions, push call buttons, speak for them, alert hospital staff to reactions, or keep up with treatments and medications. The resulting anaphylactic shock, sepsis, UTIs, escalation of disease, undetected cancers, etc. were wholly unnecessary and contributed to the lives of long-term care residents lost during pandemic protocols. We are Texas Caregivers for Compromise and we are #notgoingaway

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