Michigan considers change to controversial nursing home policy

Michigan considers change to controversial nursing home policy

DETROIT – Michigan is considering a change to its controversial nursing home policy.

Nursing home deaths related to COVID-19 account for about 29% of all deaths in the state.

Editor’s note: In reviewing our story, from 6 p.m. on May 18, we have discovered a discrepancy in our numbers. Initially we reported 49% of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths came from nursing homes in the Metro Detroit area. A second look now shows a lesser number of 29.7% of Michigan COVID-19 deaths occurring in Metro Detroit nursing homes. The new numbers are based on a more accurate understanding of the City of Detroit nursing home deaths. The City reported 1,283 overall COVID-19 deaths. The correct number of nursing home COVID-19 deaths the City of Detroit is reporting is 307.

The State of Michigan admits it doesn’t know how many Michiganders have died in nursing homes or long term care. Officials only report that just over 700 have died.

READ: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 nursing home data by county, facility

Local 4 contacted the Detroit, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county health departments to try and get a handle on Southeast Michigan nursing home coronavirus deaths.

  • Detroit alone had more than 10,000 positive cases and 307 nursing home COVID-19 deaths.
  • Macomb County had 277 nursing home COVID-19 deaths.
  • Oakland County had 459 nursing home COVID-19 deaths.
  • Wayne County had 421 nursing home COVID-19 deaths.

READ: Michigan’s policy of housing COVID-19 nursing home patients with uninfected patients comes under scrutiny

One person not counted in those numbers is 68-year-old Tony Hinojosa of Chesaning. He had Parkinson’s Disease and lived in a Chesaning nursing home. He tested positive two weeks ago and died last Thursday.

“He was yelling and it wasn’t -- he didn’t yell and he was like, ‘I’m done. I’m not gonna keep fighting.’ And I was begging him to keep fighting. ‘I can’t. I’m done, tell your mom I love her,’" his daughter said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week extended her Executive Order that placed coronavirus patients in with COVID-19 negative patients. It expires Wednesday. She’s now considering changing that policy.

“We want to make sure that it is thoughtful, that it is informed by the best data that we have currently and so that’s why it’s a shorter extension,” Whitmer said. “But we will continue.”

Hinojosa’s widow, Brenda, believes it was that policy that brought on her husband’s death.

Sen. Pete Lucido sent a letter to the Michigan Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office demanding a criminal investigation into the policy.

MORE: Michigan lawmakers discuss executive order to move COVID-19 positive seniors to ‘regional hubs’

About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.