Nursing homes are a ticking time bomb

Elderly people are the most vulnerable sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Nursing homes are a ticking time bomb
Several nursing homes throughout the country have registered COVID-19 outbreaks - Photo: Xóchitl Álvarez/EL UNIVERSAL
English 07/06/2020 09:24 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:33
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Along with prisons and hospitals, nursing homes and shelters for minors are one of the most vulnerable places amid the spread of COVID-19, or any other virus, which affects those who have a weak immune system
Out of the 819 nursing homes registered throughout the country, only 10 of them are managed by the National Institute of Elderly People (Inapam) and the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF). Authorities have only carried out inspections in 300 nursing homes, only to issue recommendations where they find failures, instead of punitive actions.
Although these facilities must have several characteristics that guarantee the safety of elderly people such as handrails, anti-slip floors, and emergency exits. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic made the lack of security measures even more evident, as well as the need for isolation areas in case of outbreaks, as well as protocols to detect and halt contagions, and special training for the staff who interacts with children and the elderly.
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Amid all the issues faced by the most vulnerable sector in the country, Mexico lacks a general diagnosis of the state of nursing homes and other social welfare centers for marginalized people. Understandably, these are vulnerable institutions because of the lack of resources or political will; however, nursing homes are an essential service for society and the state and the problems affecting them didn't start during the current administration, these are a series of issue that have accumulated over the past decades.
Although private institutions fulfill a large part of the demand, either altruist organizations or private nursing homes, none of these facilities can be stigmatized since they fulfill a role the government has been unable to. In this sense, health authorities should not close the facilities when they fail to fulfill the requirement, instead, they should carry out a diagnosis and work together to amend the mistakes uncovered during the pandemic.
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