Vermont’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities are in crisis. Nationally, about two-thirds of nursing homes are run for profit, often owned by corporate chains such as Genesis HealthCare. Profits in these facilities come at the expense of dignity for patients and staff. Even before the pandemic, low pay and chronic understaffing meant that patient care suffered while staff were stretched thin, some working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
The spread of COVID among patients and staff has exacerbated this crisis, and sadly led to loss of life. Six out of ten COVID deaths in Vermont have taken place in long-term care facilities.
Long-term care—like all healthcare—is a human right and should not be run as a market entity designed to profit owners or investors. The needs of residents and staff should guide all decisions about care and staffing.
Vermont’s Choices for Care program is a model for the direction the state should move in, so more people who need a nursing home level of care can receive services in their communities. At the same time, public officials need to address the immediate crisis in Vermont’s long-term care facilities.
We call on Governor Phil Scott to:
- Investigate conditions in for-profit nursing homes in Vermont and inform the public of the findings.
- Establish safe staffing ratios for nurses and support staff in long-term care facilities.
- Ensure that all residents and staff have the equipment necessary to prevent the spread of COVID within these facilities.
- Expand Choices for Care with adequate funding for participants to receive the support they need and caregivers to earn a livable wage.