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Opinion: Quality nursing home care should be a priority in legislature
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We must make quality nursing home care a priority in legislature

Our Georgia legislature is set to reconvene soon, after suspending back on March 13 indefinitely. At the time, none of us knew that residential care facilities, where our most vulnerable Georgians reside, would become one of the hardest hit by COVID-19.

In the US, over 50% of the deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care settings. 42% of people living in assisted living facilities have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and that does not include those with other dementia diagnoses. This pandemic has brought to light the importance of effective staffing, training and oversight of these facilities.

Our own Sen. Butch Miller is on the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. When the legislature reconvenes, in addition to tackling the budget, they will take up a short list of important bills. HB 987, a bill to improve care and increase safeguards in residential care facilities, passed the House with overwhelming support. This was as a result of advocates helping craft a bipartisan bill with compromises from senior advocates and industry leaders. I am asking that Sen. Miller support the strong House version of this bill and ensure that we make quality residential care a priority in Georgia. The governor has indicated that he is in full support of this effort.

As a constituent whose family has been greatly impacted by Alzheimer’s, we can do better by the folks who must rely on a long-term care setting for the care that they need.

Sen. Miller, COVID-19 has impacted everyone in many ways. One way is very clear, we must improve support and oversight to these long-term care facilities. A strong HB 987 will do just that.

Please pass HB 987 in your remaining days in session!

Robert L Polak

Flowery Branch, Board of Directors Member, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter

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