If you’re a home health care worker and one of your elderly, home-bound patients shows signs of the flu, what do you do? If you keep working with the patient, you risk infection that could be SARS-CoV-2, and then risk spreading it to your family and other patients who are the most at-risk population. But if you refuse to serve your client, who will help them?
Home healthcare providers care for 12 million vulnerable Americans, and they’re not sure what to do in this situation.
Some home health companies are instructing workers to abandon clients who recently traveled from states with “widespread community transmission,” or who had contact with anyone screened for coronavirus, regardless of whether that person tested positive.
Home health care trade groups in New York said dozens of caregivers have left their jobs and their patients, hurting efforts to swiftly screen at-risk adults and slow the spread of the virus.
Roger Noyes, spokesman for New York’s Home Care Association, said:
“It’s a hair-on-fire crisis.”
The problem is that many SARS-CoV-2 patients are sent home because they aren’t critically ill. But at that point, home health workers would have to take all precautions to work with them, and even then other clients would be hesitant to let those workers into their homes.
And then there’s the problem of medical supplies and equipment. In the face of the virus crisis, medical facilities are bidding against home health care workers for many items, leaving both groups with inadequate supplies.
And then there’s the financial problems that come with losing patients, which are leaving many home health businesses on the verge of bankruptcy.
This is yet another industry that needs relief soon, as it often employs people at the lowest rungs of income, who can ill-afford to miss a paycheck, and their clients definitely can’t afford to lose their care.