As the entire country watches in shock while residents in nursing facilities and other institutions are dying in large numbers, the general public is now recognizing the dangers that we have always know are inherent in congregate living. It is clear that something will need to change, and that people should no longer be forced into institutions where they are far more likely to die.
But first, we need to take action right away to save people’s lives.
Earlier this month, the Center for Disability Rights and Rochester ADAPT sent a proposal to our county to work with us on expediting the transition of folks out of nursing facilities and into the community in response to COVID-19. (See below.) Although it won’t solve the entire problem of COVID-19 in local nursing facilities, the project will give at least some people an alternative where they can leave the facility and socially distance.
Today, we had a follow up call organized by the Deputy County Executive who oversees social services and Medicaid. That call also included the CEO of the primary aging services organization locally, the Chief Medical Officer from the area’s health systems agency and the head of our County Office of Emergency Management.
We are excited to report that the county and this team are on board! The team is bringing in the county’s Medicaid staff who authorize community-based Medicaid and Medicaid services. We have started reaching out to the individuals who we are already working with in Monroe County through the Open Doors Project to ask if they are interested in an expedited transition.
This project leverages some resources that are specific to our state and locality. Everyone is not in the same situation and won’t have the same resources, but this project represents one way that Independent Living Services are meeting the immediate needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that that by sharing this, if they aren’t already doing it, other folks may develop their own approach to meeting the needs of folks in their local institutions.
I want to make sure that I acknowledge the leadership of folks in Colorado. This project was built on their great idea and the work they are doing. I am also very proud of the leadership from our local County officials and my hard-working team who are bringing freedom and safety to people with disabilities in Monroe County during this pandemic.
We will keep folks updated on our progress.