INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time, the state released an online dashboard that allows people to search for their loved one’s long term care facility and learn COVID-19 case and death information about that particular nursing home.
Deaths at long-term care facilities now make up 67% of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths—1,903 residents and 13 employees have died.
The Indiana State Department of Health published the database Wednesday afternoon following months of questions from Call 6 Investigates, as well as the urging of state lawmakers and groups like AARP Indiana.
From March through mid-July, the state only released aggregate totals for long term care facilities, rather than providing COVID-19 case and death information broken down by facility.
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The Indiana Health Care Association, which represents long term care facilities throughout Indiana, supports the state’s release of an online dashboard.
“The dashboard not only provides additional transparency for all stakeholders but is also a valuable tool to inform public health decision making and allocation of resources to mitigate COVID-19,” read a statement from IHCA. “We understand this to be the first version of the data dashboard and look forward to upcoming improvements being implemented to the dashboard that will include COVID-19 resident recovery data and other information that shows how facilities have fully recovered from previous outbreaks.”
IHCA called the impact of COVID-19 “devastating” on residents, families, and staff at long-term care facilities.
Some people in the community have raised concerns about the growing percentage of deaths attributed to long term care facilities.
However, IHCA says the discrepancy is because the state has changed its required reporting dates for nursing homes.
“It is important to note that the reporting period for the first preliminary data that the state released was March 1, 2020, whereas the reporting period for the prior data collection effort was April 10, 2020. This difference in reporting period certainly caused discrepancies,” read the IHCA statement. “We understand the newest data on the dashboard released today is verified and is an accurate representation of the COVID-19 cases in LTCs, both nursing facilities and assisted living communities.”
IHCA also points out more long-term care facilities, including those that were not previously required to report to the state, are now reporting data.
“Rather than being discouraged by more known cases, we are encouraged that more attention is being paid to the resources needed in all LTC facilities to respond to COVID-19, including testing capacity and hopefully more financial resources to procure PPE, retain staff, and buy more testing materials if federal and state-supported testing ends,” read the IHCA statement. “We commend our state’s LTC providers for displaying immense agility to adapt to the state’s changing reporting systems while caring for the most vulnerable during the ongoing pandemic. It has been a complicated process and providers have complied to the best of their abilities the entire time.”
IHCA also provided this snapshot of the long term care facility COVID-19 reporting timeline:
Long Term Care Facility COVID-19 Reporting Timeline
- March 6, 2020: Indiana reports its first COVID-19 case.
- March 16, 2020: Indiana reports its first COVID-19 death.
- Between March 6, 2020 and April 10, 2020: Long-term care facilities report COVID-19 cases and deaths through the “ISDH Gateway,” which is an established internet portal traditionally used for regulatory compliance filings. At that time, universal guidance had not yet been provided in writing on how to report COVID-19 cases/deaths.
- April 10, 2020: Per an ISDH Commissioner Order, as of April 10, 2020, all long-term care facilities are required to report to ISDH through RedCaps (a secure online survey) within 24 hours of learning of a positive COVID-19 case or confirmed or suspected COVID-19 death among residents and/or staff. The Order only required the reporting of new cases and deaths—not cases and deaths that occurred prior to April 10, 2020.
- April 20, 2020: A new RedCaps survey was released by ISDH with updated instructions.
- May 17, 2020: Per a CMS rule, nursing facilities are required to report to NHSN weekly, with the first set of data being due on May 17, 2020. Data older than May 8, 2020 was not required to be submitted, though some facilities did report data older than May 8th and some did not. The NHSN system is separate and distinct from ISDH’s RedCaps survey.
- Between July 1, 2020 and July 14, 2020: ISDH announced the creation of a COVID-19 data dashboard to display facility-specific COVID-19 cases and deaths amongst residents and staff. All long-term care facilities were required to submit historical data (with new data fields), to ISDH by July 14, 2020, detailing all COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents and staff that were confirmed through a PCR test dating back to March 1, 2020.
- July 14, 2020 and forward: Two new RedCaps surveys were released on July 11, 2020 for long-term care facilities to report COVID-19 cases and deaths within 24 hours of discovery and to report weekly aggregate data. The weekly aggregate reporting is in addition to the federally required reporting to NHSN that applies to nursing facilities.”
Link to the new LTC dashboard: https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2393.htm (once in, click on "LTC" at the top of the page)