Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 02-11-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | FEBRUARY 11-17, 2021 OPINION 9 Nursing home residents are the major victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nothing has highlighted the inadequacy of the nurs- ing home system in Rhode Island and nationally more than this epidemic. Some hope is on the horizon for relief but yet another assault on their health has also emerged. Here is the good news and the bad news for R.I. nursing home residents. The Rhode Island Senate passed legislation that would require nursing homes to provide 4.1 hours of direct care during a 24-hour period for every resident. Last year then-Speaker Nick Mattiello sat on the bill. With the advent of the new speaker, Joe Shekarchi, chances improve that the legisla- tion will pass. In order to implement the legislation, the legislature has to study and approve an increased reimbursement for Medicaid patients. Rhode Island Republicans are also on the right track when the party embraced compassionate care advo- cacy for nursing home resi- dents. In September 2020, the CMS amplified the needs which would lead to having at least one advocate for the resident designated as the compassionate care- giver. This person would have access to the resident for at least a weekly visita- tion. Nothing is more impor- tant than to end the isolation and fear of abandonment that far too many residents experience. Further, nurs- ing homes are unmonitored when outside family cannot see the care being given to their loved one. Much more oversight must happen for the Rhode Island nursing homes. One CEO of some local as well as national nursing homes got a $5 million bonus while collecting multi-millions of dollars for "care" of the residents. Rhode Island has about 80 percent for-profits running nursing homes and the temptation to cut corners for shareholders is enormous. REIT companies have burgeoning portfolios filled with nursing homes along with private equity firms who then "lease" the home to landlords or man- agement companies owned by them. It is long past time to establish rigorous over- sight for this industry. One step backward for nursing homes also became evident early this month with the seminal investiga- tive piece done by Channel 10 I-Team reporter Tamara Sacharczyk. Her report documented that while 80-90 percent of residents took the COVID-19 vaccine inoculation, far less than 50 percent of staff did, with in one case, a staff rate at 16 percent. 35 percent of nurs- ing homes responded to her survey while others wouldn't take her call or offered, "No comment." When the head of the Nursing Home Association was asked about the statistics he offered a weak "I hope they are edu- cating the staff." This is hog- wash. The ink is barely dry on the newest COVID-19 study that inoculation also prevents the transmission of COVID-19 to another. Education should be manda- tory. The R.I. Department of Health, which stumbled at the gate when COVID- 19 first hit nursing homes, has got to get on top of the situation and mandate education of the staff and urge them to get the vac- cine. Otherwise, the nurs- ing homes where staffs are recalcitrant should be published on the R.I. Health Department website so families can make informed choices where a loved one should go. With the passing of former Congressman Eddie Beard, we lost a good man who also was a fearless advocate for the elderly. Where is today's Eddie Beard? Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Two steps forward, one step back A new snowfall every few days. What is pure joy for some is complete torture for others. For those of us in the latter category, it's a time for deep breathing, patience and acceptance. Spring will come when it wants to, Virginia. Green grass, neigh- borhood strolls, and our new desire, outdoor dining, right with it. In the meantime, a note for anyone who thinks about running for local public office. Your platform aside, just promise to mandate the town snow crew to turn the plow before each driveway. You'll have a landslide elec- tion victory. How is Patriot nation doing this week? You hate Tom Brady for leaving, but you know he had to and you wish him well, sort of. You can't believe he's in the Super Bowl, but then again, of course he is. You say there's no chance he can win another one, and then he just blows the Chiefs away with your other heart- throb Gronk as his accom- plice. One thing is clear: You're not letting go. New England TV ratings slightly edged Tampa Bay. A cultural constant even in a pandemic, the cham- pionship game brings the debut of new commercials and our critical review. This year, Bruce Springsteen relented and said yes to Jeep. He told us "we need the middle." That the soil we stand on is common ground. That we can end the fear, crossing this divide as the Reunited States of America. Early consensus on the message is hard to gauge. If you believe talk radio show calls are representative, you would think that this leftist egomaniac has no credibil- ity or standing and that he should just shut up and sing. The anger is quite palpa- ble. And one could suggest that the Boss just took a run at calming the nation. But how dare he? We're doing just fine, thank you. If cold wars exist in fami- lies, if longtime friends have stopped talking, if business relationships are strained and commerce is interrupt- ed, so be it, and well, that's just the way it is. Obama really started it. Yeah, but Trump took it to another crazy level. Biden's rating has started high, but any minute now it will be his fault. Don't forget Nancy Pelosi and AOC. And wel- come to the scene, Marjorie Taylor Greene. Democracy has never been tranquil. It's a serious contact sport, a competition of ideas. But what we have now is a sometimes violent circus where there are few rules, and personalities con- trol the thermostat in the arena. COVID just drips gas on the flame. Pray that the vac- cines are a fire hose. Dan McKee's transition team stepped in it again. Still the lieutenant governor, he is running a camouflage email contest to replace himself when he becomes governor. WPRI asked for the long list of some 60 applicants, was turned down, and quickly filed a public records complaint with the attorney general. It's embarrassing enough that they're running this nomination charade (see last week's column). Then it fails to dawn on them that tradi- tional candidates for the job run in these things called elections, which are, ahem, public. With hand plainly stuck in the non-transparen- cy cookie jar, they relented, saying they planned to do it all along once the emails were "authenticated." Yeah, that's the ticket. And anoth- er unforced error. Meanwhile, Gov. Gina Raimondo's cabinet promo- tion is still not confirmed. Bring in Ferris Bueller. "You're still here? Go home. The movie is over." Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns commu- nications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC. Is the middle to be found? DAN YORKE Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXV, Number 50 February 11, 2021 valleybreeze.com @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE & ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Jack Birolini, Director of Sales jack@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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