General Assembly must study COVID-19 nursing home deaths

By Barth Bracey, RIRTL

(Prov., R.I.) – Tragically, as of this writing, the state Department of Health reports just over 500 COVID-19 fatalities in Rhode Island, the vast majority of whom (75% or more) resided at long-term care or assisted living facilities in the state, possibly the highest rate in the nation.

We have known since February that the elderly were especially vulnerable to what was then referred to as the Wuhan coronavirus. Seniors in China and Italy were hit hard, and the first domestic outbreak began at a nursing home in Washington state.

Governor Gina Raimondo declared a state of emergency on March 9. Her administration moved aggressively to restrict travel into the state and to shut down behaviors and sectors of society deemed non-essential. But were sufficient and timely attention and resources dedicated to preventing the spread of COVID-19 between and within long-term care and assisted living facilities, where the threat was already known to be greatest? As of this writing, not one of her 33 executive orders related to this emergency has been exclusively dedicated to nursing homes.

Too, the Raimondo administration, in recent years, has cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes. More than six in ten residents of these facilities in Rhode Island are covered by Medicaid. Has chronic and habitual overpromising and underfunding of public health care unduly hampered our ability to protect vulnerable members of society from this deadly pandemic?

The Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee hopes the General Assembly will soon exercise its oversight duties on this critical matter. Going forward, Rhode Island must do all it can to protect our most vulnerable, especially as we contemplate the possibility of a second wave.

Virtual Oratory Contest

Our annual pro-life oratory contest for high school students will be held virtually. We will be accepting video submissions through Friday, June 12. While there will be no travel prize awarded, the cash prizes of $500, $250, $200, $150, and $100 remain. Also the winning submission wll be entered into the virtual national contest. Contest guidelines can be found here (please ignore the date and travel prize). Contact us at (401) 521-1860 or for questions.

Ancora’s New Digs

Ancora’s new digs are finished! So many people to thank for donated work and materials (Louis Torrado Architects for the plans, David Lynch and the J.H. Lynch Team for excavation and site work, Joe Delgado and Dartmouth Building Supply for materials, Antonio Rossano and Universal Components for roof trusses) and those who provided high quality work at discounts that even this poor charity could afford (Chris Waugh of Waugh & Sons, and Dave the electrician). All of this was expertly managed by our board chairman and project manager Jack Parquette. And of course, another round of thanks to NACEPF for getting Ancora built and letting us park there for the past two years. Lastly, thank you to all of our donors for making this possible. We will have some further big news about Ancora next week. Stay tuned.

For additional information please visit or write to us at Right to Life, P.O. Box 28285, Providence, RI 02908.

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