Attorney General Dana Nessel will be prosecuting nursing homes and long-term care facilities that refuse executive orders on coronavirus safety.

LANSING, MI — Long-term care facilities like nursing homes not complying with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders that hold those facilities to CDC safety standards will face consequences, says Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Willful violations of coronavirus safety measures will result in 90 days in jail, Nessel said. 

“Over the last several months, this virus has claimed more than 6,000 lives in Michigan and presented us with countless challenges that we have had to work together to overcome,” Nessel said. “My office is prepared to continue our role of enforcing the law as this virus lingers and as Michigan’s most vulnerable populations remain at risk.”

In July, The ‘Gander reported that the vast majority of confirmed cases in Alpena County traced back to a MediLodge facility that fell far short of the CDC practices prescribed for retirement communities, and MediLodge was chastised by the the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) for failing to adhere to safety protocols. 

State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) told The ‘Gander that incidents like this were often caused by facilities being understaffed and unprepared for a pandemic. But reporting those violations to LARA became a difficult task.

“A lot of this is because things got hectic, systems got overwhelmed during COVID, and I understand that,” Pohutsky explained. “But it became a little onerous to try and report an issue to LARA.”

As a result of events like this, with consultation from legislators like Pohutsky, Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-148. Almost 5,000 nursing homes, assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities for the elderly are covered under this order.

That order requires nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to cancel communal dining and group activities, implement disinfection and sanitation regimens, provide personal protective equipment to employees, inform employees of a COVID-19-positive patient, and report presumed positive cases and additional data to their local health departments and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). It also suspends evictions from these facilities. 

“Across Michigan, nursing home staff, residents, and their families have made unprecedented sacrifices over the past four months to protect each other from the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Their work has undoubtedly saved lives. However, if there are facilities in our state that are putting their residents and staff at risk by not following the rules, they must be held accountable.

Nessel will be working with LARA to identify and pursue legal action against facilities not following those protocols and pursuing legal action using her office’s Health Care Fraud Division, her office explained in a statement to The ‘Gander. 

“Our staff works with the employees and owners of Michigan’s long-term care facilities day in and day out and while I’m confident that the vast majority of them are doing things the right way, it is vital that we take action against those who are not following the rules,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “I appreciate AG Nessel and her team in leading the efforts for consumers to file complaints on possible violations related to the EO violations and spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.”
That added accountability will help ensure nursing homes adhere to the best practices in Gov. Whitmer’s orders to prevent the spread of the virus through Michigan’s elderly population. As we saw early in the pandemic, solid preparation and following best practices can make a massive difference among elderly populations.