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Washington State sent COVID patients into nursing homes to "…create capacity for hospitals" during the initial outbreak. This new revelation follows Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state's health officer, suddenly announcing her resignation from her position with the state Department of Health, even as Washington continues to grapple with an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In newly disclosed communications, Candace Goehring, Director of Residential Care services for the state, sent a letter to "Nursing Facility/Home Administrators" asking them to take COVID patients and also enticing them with Medicaid funds. "Nursing Homes that admit these patients will receive a $100 add on to the Medicaid nursing home rate…"
The letter was dated almost three weeks after the virus outbreak in Washington State swept through a nursing home in Kirkland, killing the majority of residents. As a result of the spread, Washington was the initial epicenter of the virus in the US.
A week before the letter was sent, Governor Jay Inslee was already issuing proclamations recognizing the need to protect people aged 60 and older from the virus— which begs the question why a department under his authority was asking for nursing homes and care facilities to take COVID patients.
Governor Inslee expanded the directives he made for nursing homes to long-term care facilities on March 26. In proclamation 20-36 on March 30, almost a month after the outbreak in Washington nursing homes, Inslee mentioned in anticipation of hospitals being overwhelmed a need to "…waive portions of licensing statutes and rules" so healthcare facilities could provide alternative beds for COVID patients.
The Inslee administration has a history of cutting corners for the sake of expediency in virus response, which lead to disastrous results. Washington State was defrauded out of somewhere between 650 million and one billion dollars, when Inslee and his appointee Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the state's unemployment fund, removed safeguards on unemployment filings that allowed Nigerian scammers to steal the money from the Washington State unemployment coffers. This left thousands of people with no financial support in the wake of Inslee's mandated lockdowns. The exact totals are still unknown.
Amber Krabach, a candidate for Washington's House of Representatives, filed a public disclosure request and discovered that the Washington State Department of Health was working on waivers to place COVID patients into nursing homes as early as March 5, knowing full well the deadly impact the virus was having on residents.
Conversely, according to an exchange between Amber Leaders, Senior Advisor to Inslee, and Chery Strange of the Department of Health and Human Services, all of this was going on while government officials knew full well how deadly the virus was.
It appears that Governor Inslee and members of his administration may have once again knowingly and willingly cut corners and by doing so put nursing home residents at risk without looking at the science and data already known at that time.
This policy may have proven more deadly than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to also put COVID patients in nursing homes. Krabach has filed more public disclosure requests to find out the full extent of the orders and if this was possibly done to receive federal funding.