Whitmer Creates Nursing Homes COVID-19 Task Force
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and several other democratic governors have been under fire for placing patients who test positive for COVID-19 into in nursing homes with healthy, but high-risk residents.
Officials with the Michigan Health Department said more than one-third of the state’s nearly 6,000 coronavirus deaths came from nursing homes.
Whitmer has admitted in the past that if she had a time machine, there are ways she would handle the situation differently.
Today she issued another executive order, to handle the situation differently. Whitmer announced appointments to the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force.
“We have taken great strides here in Michigan to protect families from the spread of COVID-19, but we must stay engaged and continue to protect our most vulnerable Michiganders and those who have dedicated their lives to caring for them,” said Governor Whitmer. “These appointees have the knowledge and professional backgrounds that will help our state protect more nursing home residents and staff in the case of a second wave. I will be working closely with this task force and with everyone who wants to help us protect our most vulnerable populations, the heroes on the front lines, and our families from COVID-19.”
The Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force was created by Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-135 as an advisory body in the Department of Health and Human Services to adequately inform the state’s response to a potential second wave of COVID-19. The Task Force is charged with, among other things, coordinating across state government and with industry stakeholders to ensure a broad range of input from relevant entities, analyzing relevant data on the threat of COVID-19 in nursing homes and making recommendations to the governor on improving data quality, reporting on best practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and provide appropriate and timely technical assistance to nursing homes.
The Task Force will consist of DHHS Director Robert Gordon or his designee, LARA Director Orlene Hawks or her designee, Michigan State Long Term Care Ombudsman Salli Pung, State Senators Rosemary Bayer (D) and Curt VanderWall (R) , State Representatives Leslie Love (D) and Hank Vaupel (R), and the following members appointed by the Governor who have personal or professional interest in the health, safety, and welfare of nursing home residents and workers:
Trece Andrews, of Detroit, is a caregiver for Regency at St. Clair Shores, where she has worked since 2010. She is also a member of SEIU Healthcare of Michigan and attended Wayne County Community College.
Renee L. Beniak, of Fowlerville, is the executive director of the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council. She holds an Associate in Applied Science in Registered Nursing from Schoolcraft College and a Master of Arts in Social Science from Eastern Michigan University.
Betty Chu, M.D., of Birmingham, is the senior vice president and associate chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System and the chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs for the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. Dr. Chu earned her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Michigan Medical School. She also holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Michigan. The Governor has designated Dr. Chu to serve as Co-Chair of the Task Force.
Ann M. Hepfer, of Mayville, is the health officer for the Huron and Tuscola County Health Departments. She earned her associate degree in nursing from Kirkland Community College and Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.
David E. Herbel, of East Lansing, is the president and CEO of LeadingAge Michigan. He holds a master’s degree in business administration and management from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in health services administration from Ferris State University.
Alison E. Hirschel, of East Lansing, is the director and managing attorney for the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative, an elder law attorney for the Michigan Poverty Law Program, and a lecturer for the University of Michigan Law School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School.
Steven M. Kastner, of Plymouth, is the president and CEO of Trinity Health Senior Communities. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Manchester University and a Master of Science in Administration from the University of Notre Dame.
Preeti N. Malani, M.D., of Ann Arbor, is the chief health officer at the University of Michigan where she is also a professor and faculty member, medical director of MHealthy, and director of the National Poll on Healthy Aging. Dr. Malani received her Doctor of Medicine from Wayne State University School of Medicine. She also holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Science in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis from the University of Michigan.
Hari "Roger" Mali, II, of Bingham Farms, is the owner and CEO of Mission Management Services, LLC in Troy, where they specialize in skilled nursing care and senior housing management. He received his Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School and his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Bowdoin College. The Governor has designated Mr. Mali to serve as Co-Chair of the Task Force.
Mia K. Moore, of Clinton Township, Moore is a certified nurse assistant with the Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility in Mount Clemens. She is CPR and first-aid certified and attended the Detroit Job Corps Center.
Melissa K. Samuel, of Lansing, is the president and CEO for the Health Care Association of Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication with an emphasis in Political Science from Michigan State University.
Kari L. Sederburg, of East Lansing, is the director of healthy aging for the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and public relations from Ferris State University and a Master of Public Administration from Ohio University.
Melissa Seifert, of DeWitt, is the associate director for government affairs for AARP of Michigan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government and a Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University.
The Task Force will produce a recommendation to the governor for an action plan on how to prepare nursing homes for any future wave of COVID-19 cases by August 31, 2020. The Task Force will dissolve no later than two years after the issuance of the executive order unless the governor orders otherwise.
These appointments, made by executive order, are not subject to advice and consent of the Senate.