Federal agency reports nearly 200 more nursing home coronavirus deaths than ISDH


INDIANAPOLIS — New numbers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show 1,141 residents of Indiana nursing homes have died of COVID-19 as of May 24.

The data was published on Monday. On the same day, the Indiana State Department of Health updated its coronavirus dashboard. ISDH said 945 long-term care residents had died of COVID-19.

That number is nearly 200 people fewer than the data from CMS. While CMS only provides data for nursing homes, ISDH’s data on cases and deaths includes more types of facilities, like residential assisted living.

“The data need to be as accurate as possible given that there is going to be interpretation of how to report that data,” said Zachary Cattell, president of the Indiana Health Care Association.

IHCA is the group that represents long-term care facilities in Indiana.

Centers are required to report COVID-19 related deaths to ISDH, according to an order from the State Health Commissioner. Even with the discrepancy, Cattell explained he is not concerned facilities are failing to do that.

“I think it is going to take a little bit of time to discern exactly what the difference is or the reasons for those difference from the state and federal government,” he said.

Indiana’s Joint Information Center claimed data may differ for a number of reasons, including reporting methods, the time period that is covered and which facilities are reporting.

The state plans to review the CMS report to identify where discrepancies exist to make sure the data posted on the ISDH dashboard is as accurate and current as possible.

“Helps us to have peace of mind and to be able to make accurate decisions when we have accurate data,” said Julie Woods, a woman whose father lived in a Lebanon nursing home.

Wood’s said her 72-year-old father passed away after testing positive from COVID-19. The owner of his facility now posts COVID-19 data on their website.

As of May 24, about 12,500 nursing homes across the country had reported the required data to the CDC. These facilities reported over 60,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and almost 26,000 deaths.

About 20% of nursing homes in the United States had not reported data.

Starting Thursday, COVID-19 data for nursing homes will be published on Nursing Home Compare. The information will be broken down by state, number of residents and number of staff. The data will be searchable by facility name.

ISDH said it has not analyzed COVID-19 cases by facility and will continue to post aggregate data on their website each Monday.

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