Enhanced Protections for Residents and Staff of Long-Term Care Facilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Michigan

On April 15, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-50 to provide for enhanced protections for residents and staff of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This Executive Order recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic poses a particularly dire threat to the health and safety of both residents and employees of long-term care facilities.

“A single positive case of COVID-19 in a nursing home or other long-term care facility places all of the home’s residents and staff at risk of harm,” said attorney Donna MacKenzie, a partner at Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace.  “We are hopeful that this Executive Order will bring the relief and protection that Michigan’s nursing home residents desperately need during this crisis.”

Pursuant to the Executive Order, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will work with long-term care facilities across the state to establish COVID-19 designated regional hubs. These hubs will provide higher levels of care and services to treat patients with increased needs. All other nursing facilities will continue providing care in a traditional manner which may include the care of patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but do not require specialized care and services. Nursing facilities that continue to retain COVID-19 residents must establish a dedicated unit for COVID-19 affected residents and must provide appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) to the employees who staff that unit.

To slow the spread of the virus, if a resident is known to display COVID-19 symptoms, a long-term care facility will be required to inform both employees and residents, and take additional precautions as outlined in the order. To slow the spread of COVID-19, the order requires nursing homes to have separate units for residents who test positive for COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, supplied with appropriate PPE. Finally, the order ensures that residents of long-term care facilities get the medical care they need and have access to a safe environment that can meet their needs once they are medically stable.

Executive order 2020-50 also protects residents from being evicted and protects employees from retaliation for staying home when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to mitigate the risk of infecting others under Executive Order 2020-36. Additionally, the order uses CDC guidelines to establish precautionary measures within long-term care facilities.

Below are links to Executive Order 2020-50, and other helpful resources: