5 Months After Nursing Home Lock Down, Arizona Task Force Meets For The First Time To talk Reopening

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Monday, August 10, 2020 - 1:05pm
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 12:54pm

A press conference on March 11, 2020,
Arizona Department of Health Services
A press conference on March 11, 2020, press conference with Gov. Doug Ducey, Dr. Cara Christ and Dana Marie Kennedy.

The task force that will develop recommendations on how and when to allow visitors back inside Arizona’s long-term care facilities met for the first time on Friday.

Participants talked about their goals and the many challenges they face dealing with the coronavirus.

"We could come away with a lot of really great ways to improve the care in these facilities, said Dana Marie Kennedy.

Kennedy is the state director for AARP Arizona and was on the call.

"You know, that we could have a good road map. Now, when that road map gets implemented is my biggest concern," said Kennedy.

The meeting was organized by Gov. Doug Ducey’s staff. There were nearly two dozen people on Friday’s Zoom call, which included lawmakers, aging services providers, family members and aging advocates. Almost all of them talked about three key issues: testing, personal protective equipment and staffing.

"If these facilities do not have adequate PPE, testing, and staffing, then I don't know when visits are going to happen," said Kennedy. "Because that is one of the things that is needed in order to make sure residents are safe, and that family members can visit them."

Roughly five months have now passed since visitors to long term care facilities were restricted. 

Public health experts and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have said that testing, adequate personal protective equipment and staffing are key to reopening long-term care facilities.

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