After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, Oklahoma’s long-term care facilities are beginning to reopen to visitors. It could still be weeks or months before families are reunited.
Last March, nursing homes, assisted living communities, veteran centers and other long-term care facilities closed their doors to visitors to protect vulnerable residents. Annual inspections were halted to limit the number of people coming and going. Even the state’s ombudsmen, resident advocates who investigate and resolve complaints against facilities, were shut out for months.
But outbreaks were imminent.
More than 13,000 residents and workers have contracted COVID-19, according to the state’s latest report. At least 1,224 have died.
Following requests from Oklahoma Watch, the state health department began releasing COVID-19 infection and death numbers by facility to the public. But the numbers provided little insight into why outbreaks were hitting some facilities harder than others.
A 52-page affidavit details a complicated, criminal enterprise devised by Epic Charter Schools’ co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris, and former CFO Josh Brock. The three were arrested and booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center Thursday.
While Oklahoma County commissioners have long considered building a new jail facility, this marks the first time the issue has advanced to the election ballot.
Jennifer Palmer reports on statewide ACT scores and how schools are spending COVID relief money. Keaton Ross discusses his story about the Oklahoma Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency’s report on the problems they found in state prisons and the Department of Corrections.
For a year, many facilities have been operating in the dark allowing few outsiders in. Among them were state health department staff.
Surveyors inspected more than 650 facilities statewide to ensure that workers were following new infection protocols — including the use of protective equipment, hand hygiene and quarantine guidelines — and recorded violations.
These reports are public. For families, they can provide rare information about how well their loved ones are being cared for during the pandemic. The state health department posts the reports to its website surveys.health.ok.gov.
The site is searchable only by facility, which limits broad searches. The reports are brief, with little detail when facilities are found in compliance. But details abound if violations are recorded.
The site also provides licensing and certification documents, ownership reports, complaint investigations and communication from federal regulators.
In the video below, I explain what is available on the state’s website, how to find it and what it means.