Oregon to provide data on norovirus in nursing homes

The Oregon Health Authority is releasing records on outbreaks of norovirus at hundreds of nursing homes and care facilities.

While it’s not unusual for norovirus to strike elderly or vulnerable populations in assisted living facilities, Oregon reports have never named the affected facilities.

Willamette Week reports that OHA is scheduled to produce a full report on disease outbreaks for the first time – as it should.  Any and all health information must be available for Oregonians making decisions about long-term care for themselves or elderly relatives.

Norovirus has infected 23,000 residents in Oregon nursing facilities in the past decade. In that time, 48 facilities have seen more than one norovirus outbreak.

Oregon health officials say that the number of outbreaks at any given facility doesn’t necessarily indicate nursing home neglect or other serious problems.

 “It’s important when you seek supportive housing for aging family members that you get information on staffing, bedsores and hospitalization rates—all far more important than reported disease outbreaks,”

Dr. Paul Lewis, Willamette Week, Sick Report.

How the facility responds to norovirus, however, can say a lot about how they manage contagions and other health problems in their elderly populations.