Putting a real figure on the damage caused by the coronavirus in residences is already pointed out as something impossible. The official statistics, the one provided by the Ministry of Health, collects around 30,000 deaths in these centers since the beginning of the pandemic. But this would not be a real number, since many of those who died at the most critical moment of the first wave in nursing homes (March and April of last year) were not attributed to the coronavirus as there was no diagnostic test.
So all the studies or research aimed at quantifying the death bill charged by the covid in nursing homes are based on estimated figures. It is estimated that 43.3% of those killed by coronavirus in Spain in the last twelve months were users of residences.
First study comparing the number of deaths based on the number of places in each territory
These are the known figures globally, but until now no research has bothered to compare the drama experienced by these elderly women and men based on their place of residence. Or put another way, what this study does is read the number of deaths from the places occupied in nursing homes in the different autonomous communities.
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This work has just been done by the Network Aging platform. The investigation is based on the premise that it could be assumed that deaths from covid “would have to be distributed proportionally to the number of nursing home residents in each community.” It would be logical if all the centers had taken the same measures and precautions in the fight against this pandemic.
The Aging on the Net report reveals, however, that this premise has not been met. Quite the opposite. According to this research, in Madrid residences (if the number of deaths is compared with the number of residents) the incidence of deaths in these centers is almost 53% higher than the average number of deaths registered in nursing homes in Spain.
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Why does Madrid have this excess mortality in nursing homes? This excess of deaths – included in the study of this platform, which collaborates with the Fundación General CSIC and the Institute of Economy, Geography and Demography (IEGD) – can be explained by several causes. In that community, “a protocol of exclusion from health care in referral hospitals was applied to sick residents who had cognitive impairment or motor disability. And this exclusion was applied from mid-March to mid-April of last year, so the residences were not medicalized despite the fact that there was a ruling from the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid for this measure to be carried out ”.
And the report continues: “Only those residents with private insurance were transferred to private hospitals.” These are arguments very similar to those used in its day by another Amnesty International report, also very critical of the response of the Community of Madrid to the drama of the residences at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.
Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Aragon, La Rioja and Navarra are other communities, according to this research, that have registered more deaths in their residences than it would touch by the number of users. Between ten and thirty percent more deaths.
These variations in excess mortality in residences between autonomous communities “are a reflection of the different management of the pandemic inside and outside the residences,” says that report. And he affirms that “many deaths could have been avoided if there had been a clear objective to reduce the probability of virus invasion in residences, protecting the elderly population with a high risk of mortality in case of infection”.
The Aging on the Net platform states that Spain “was the country that least protected people over 70 years of age and citizens domiciled in a social health center.” That lack of protection, concludes the report, “has caused preventable and premature deaths in all communities, but there are great differences between territories depending on the good and bad actions” And ends: “It is urgent to explain what happened to prevent history from becoming repeat ”.