‘You Are My Sunshine’: For Nursing Homes, COVID-19 Vaccinations Bring Hope Amid An Uncertain Future
Visitors were allowed to return to senior care sites last week, so Kate Cunningham of Canton hurried over to see her mother. It had been three and a half months since they last embraced. In that time, 88-year-old Sheila McCabe had been quarantined with coronavirus, then recovered, and now she’svaccinated.
“It’s really emotional,” said Cunningham, 58, who entered the Copley at Stoughton nursing home and immediately kissed her mom on the cheek. So recently unthinkable, something so simple and normal was back.“It’s just nice to be in her company.”
No corner of Massachusetts life was more devastated by the coronavirus a year ago than long-term care. And none has seen infection rates drop faster since COVID-19 vaccines rolled out at the end of last year. Over the past 12 weeks, nearly all of the33,000residents and most of the staff at the state’s nursing and rest homes have gotten at least one shot, and most have been fully inoculated. The seven-day average of virus cases in the homes has tumbled by 93 percent.
Two national organizations representing nursing homes, the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge, proposed federal legislation last week calling for $15 billion in funding for clinical improvements, such as 24-hour nursing, and to support state Medicaid reimbursements for long-term care.