Court: Guardianship requests may rise with vaccine rollout

Michigan’s court administrator’s office told chief probate judges that they may see an increase in petitions seeking temporary guardians for some people in long-term care facilities as vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus pick up.

A memo from Court Administrator Thomas Boyd and Court Administrator Emeritus Milton Mack dated Dec. 22 suggests that judges work with local health departments on plans to deal with the issue. The state announced Monday that residents and staff in skilled nursing homes would start receiving vaccines for the virus that has infected more than 483,000 in Michigan and led to the deaths of about 12,300.

“Residents of long-term care facilities are among those to be vaccinated early in the first wave,” Boyd and Mack wrote. “It is likely that the issue of capacity to consent to inoculation may arise for those residents who are incapacitated … and who do not have a patient advocate or a guardian who may act on their behalf.”

“You will need to know which facilities are in line for vaccinations and when those vaccinations might start,” the memo continued. “You might suggest that the health department notify these facilities that they should take an inventory and determine what residents require third party consent.”

Oakland County’s Probate Court asked local nursing homes to inventory patient records to determine which patients require third-party consent and to make sure the information is up to date.

More than 5,000 long-term care facilities, including more than 400 skilled nursing facilities, have enrolled in a program to receive the Moderna vaccine, according to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.

About 91,000 people, including residents and staff, are at nursing facilities in the state. It is expected to take three weeks to complete the vaccinations.

“We know the residents of these facilities are at high-risk for severe illness and death from the virus, and early vaccination of both residents and those caring for them is critical to help protect this population,” Khaldun said.

On Tuesday, Michigan confirmed an additional 3,414 virus cases and 193 deaths, including 105 deaths found during a review of records.

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services said earlier this month that it had received 231,075 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna.

On Dec. 14, workers at two Michigan hospitals were the first in the state to receive a vaccine.

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