Hancock’s Canal View executive administrator calls for rollback of COVID-19 regulations

Kimberly Salmi said she wants to combat staffing shortages and questions existing COVID-19 pandemic guidelines in nursing facilities.
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 8:43 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 8:50 PM EDT
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HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Canal View executive administrator Kimberly Salmi posted on Facebook on Sept. 2 about the troubles the nursing facility, and according to her, the health care industry, has been going through during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was me putting into words our story over the last couple of years,” said Salmi. “On behalf of my own frustrations but also my staff.”

All care facility regulations are determined at the federal level by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services which were last revised in March.

According to Salmi, required frequent testing and strict mask guidelines are required of nursing facilities but not other health facilities, which she said is an issue.

“This is not the same pandemic, it is not the same variant that it was in the beginning,” continued Salmi. “Yet we are the only industry as far as I know that is treating it like it was the original Alpha and Delta variant out there.”

She said health care workers are leaving the industry for less stressful ones, existing workers are turning to drugs to help cope, and hospitals are full of potential residents who can’t stay at care facilities due to the lack of staff.

She also said she wants to help correct stigmas of nursing homes being places largely affected by COVID-19.

Pre-pandemic, Canal View had roughly 340 staff members. With agency staff, its current number is around 250.

She argues action must be taken with the available ways to combat the virus.

“Yes, it’s still making people sick, but it’s not killing them like it used to,” added Salmi. “Not at the same levels, not at the same rates. it’s not hospitalizing people like it used to. We have tools in our toolbox, let’s use them.”

These sentiments are shared by the Houghton County Department of Health and Human Services Board (HCDHHS).

“COVID is there, but it is maintainable,” said HCDHHS Board Chair Ed Junich.

“I have to say that it breaks my heart,” continued HCDHHS Board Vice President Christy Hilger. “To think of the people who want to be there, who have families who want them to get the care and services they need, and they can’t get it because we don’t have the staff to open up more beds.”

“I certainly agree with Kim,” added HCDHHS Board Member Jim Tervo. “It’s time that we start to treat COVID for what it is now compared to what it was two years ago.”

According to the Michigan Department of Human Services, it has prioritized most of the state’s staffing support resources to U.P. nursing facilities via surge staffing until the spring of this year.

It also sent a Mobile Crisis Team that remains in the U.P. to support facilities, currently covering around 3% of needs and is typically staged out of Esky and Marquette.

We also reached out to the offices of Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, who both pointed us to the FAQ on the CMS website.

Salmi said she hopes to at least start a conversation to help makes changes.

“I think it’s time we have a very cordial conversation,” said Salmi. “A respectful conversation about where we’re at right now and how we get out of it, and not just for long-term care but also for the other health care industries that are out there.”