Michigan Gov. Whitmer admits flaws in controversial COVID-19 nursing home policy

Policy put positive, negative COVID-19 patients together in nursing homes

Daughter of nursing home resident talks about flaws of governor's plan

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has admitted there are flaws in her controversial plan to put positive and negative coronavirus (COVID-19) patients together in the same nursing homes.

The plan is still in action, though, putting people vulnerable to infection at risk.

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

The daughter of one nursing home patient told Local 4 she was watching Monday as Whitmer answered questions about whether she had any regrets with her policy.

“I most definitely fear for my mother’s life,” Kelly Anne Carlson said.

Carlson’s mother, Esther May Gordon, is 87 years old and lives in a Southeast Michigan nursing home that accepts COVID-19 positive patients, Carlson said.

She hasn’t been able to visit her mother since the crisis began.

“It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Carlson said.

She and her husband have written to the governor, pleading for a change in the policy, she said. A form letter back didn’t make her feel any better.

“I’m terrified she is going to get COVID-19 and I’m never going to see her again,” Carlson said.

Whitmer has defended her policy throughout the pandemic. Her administration says the original plan to send nursing home patients to the TCF Center never materialized because it wasn’t set up for long-term care.

On Monday, Whitmer offered some different thoughts.

“We, I think, learned a great deal in the last 10 weeks,” Whitmer said. “I think if we could go back in a time machine and do some things differently, sure, there are things we would improve upon, but every action we took was based on the best science and the best information available to protect people and save lives.”

Her administration says some 30% of the 5,500 coronavirus deaths in the state have come from nursing homes.

“She has the total authority and ability to change that now and not have my mother and other people’s mothers and fathers go through the living hell wondering when you’re going to get the phone call,” Carlson said.

Carlson wants Whitmer to find a separate facility for COVID-19 positive patients, but that’s not something the governor has suggested she is looking into.

Legislators are looking at some bills that would force Whitmer’s hand on the subject.

About the Authors:

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

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.