Arizona Cites New Reason For Withholding Names Of Nursing Homes With COVID-19
Arizona will not release the names of nursing homes that have residents with confirmed COVID-19 infections. The head of the Arizona Department of Health Services cited state law as the reason why.
"As we look at long-term care facilities, these are residents, these are their homes, this is their address. There is state law that requires me to protect people’s communicable-disease information. And I take that job seriously."
That was Dr. Cara Christ at a press conference on Wednesday. But just two weeks ago, Christ cited a federal law, HIPAA, as the reason why the state would not release the names.
"Yeah, it is confusing, and I think it's even more confusing to families," said Dana Marie Kennedy, the state director of AARP Arizona. "And I think the bottom line is, why don't they just release this information? And they can release the information and they are just not willing to."
On April 23, Kennedy sent Gov. Doug Ducey a letter saying the state has no legal standing when it comes to naming those facilities, which Kennedy says will help families make informed decisions about their loved one’s care.
"[Christ] even went so far to say, you know, if a court orders me to release the information, then they'll release it," said Kennedy, "And so the fact that she, you know, referenced going to court, it was almost as if she was asking, 'AARP go ahead and take us to court to release this information.'"
Dave Voepel is with the Arizona Health Care Association. He says some facilities that revealed COVID-19 infections to the public are now reporting that staff are being ostracized.