Lawmaker, families push Indiana to release names of long-term care facilities with coronavirus cases

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A state lawmaker and families are calling for more transparency on COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities.

Indiana plans to provide weekly updates on statewide totals for these facilities, but the state’s health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box will not release the names of those sites.

On Monday, Dr. Box said the state will begin publishing statistics attesting to the pervasiveness of the infection inside of Hoosier long-term healthcare facilities.

“As I noted last week, we’ve had a number of outbreaks and more than 100 deaths in these facilities across the state,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box at a daily briefing from the governor’s office. “We are working on a plan to provide weekly updates on those totals and hope to have more data to share on this front later this week.”

Dr. Box said they have tried to avoid disclosing names of facilities because it is a personal matter between the facility, the residents and their families.

On Tuesday though, Ombudsman for Long Term Care in Indiana Lynn Clough said the names should be published. Clough said the state could identify specific nursing homes and report their COVID-19 outbreak numbers and deaths without violating HIPAA rules and confidentiality.

When FOX59 asked Dr. Box a question during a daily press briefing on Tuesday, she revealed new numbers regarding cases in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Box reported 162 COVID-19 deaths in 74 facilities. She also said there are 1,568 cases in 199 facilities.

“At this point, that is the extent to which we want to report data,” she said during the briefing.

Several states, including Florida, New Jersey and New York, have already published the names of long-term care facilities or nursing homes.

Sarah Troutman, whose father lives at Bethany Pointe in Anderson, thinks Indiana should do the same thing.

“We can’t go in and put our eyes on them,” she explained.

Troutman is the power of attorney for her dad, Barry Jackson, who is an 88-year-old Navy veteran. Troutman claims no one at the facility has told her the total number of COVID-19 cases inside the facility.

“You want to know how deep are we in this, how bad is it,” she said. “Do you have 30? Do you have two? So I can make an educated decision on what I want to do going forward.”

Indiana officially announced an outbreak at Bethany Pointe on April 6 during its daily press briefing. At the time, Dr. Box said the virus killed 11 residents.

Troutman said she spoke to the facility two days before and nobody mentioned anything like that. Later that week, her dad tested positive for COVID-19. Troutman said he is doing okay.

Now, Trilogy Health Services — the company who operates Bethany Pointe — said 30 residents have died of COVID-19 as of Friday.

State Representative Jim Lucas is also calling for more transparency.

“That is too much government control. We have Hoosier families that have loved ones in these facilities,” he said. “The absence of raw factual data, people start drawing their own conclusions and that is when people start going off the rails.”

Before Dr. Box announced new numbers on cases in facilities during a press briefing on Tuesday, the state told FOX59 the most recent numbers it could provide was from the previous Wednesday.

“If something is this important that we are shutting down the economy and risking the economic lives of Hoosiers, that data should be available everyday, especially late into the game,” said State Rep. Lucas.

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