COVID-19 at Long-Term Health Facilities
Elderly people are at higher risk for COVID-19, as are people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, respiratory illness, heart disease, and kidney disease. Both the elderly and the chronically ill are heavily represented among the nation’s 1.3 million nursing home residents. Thirty-five percent of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Many conditions at nursing homes have exacerbated the spread of the disease, including understaffing and the lack of proper resources. Numerous class action and individual wrongful death lawsuits have been filed asserting that appropriate precautions were not maintained to keep nursing home residents safe from contracting COVID-19.
What is Covid-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 that can trigger what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can affect your upper and lower respiratory tract. It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, mainly through person-to-person contact. Infections range from mild to deadly.
COVID-19 Long-Term Care Statistics
- By May 2020, Covid-19 had claimed the lives of more than 170,000 long-term care residents and staff in the United States.
- More than 1 in 4 nursing homes, or 28 percent, had direct care staffing shortages each month since the beginning of last June. Adequate staffing ratios in nursing homes can help mitigate infection by ensuring better care and less person-to-person contact.
- Twenty-three percent did not have a one-week supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE helps stop the transfer of infectious droplets through the air.
Why Do Long-Term Health Care Facilities Have Higher Rates of Covid-19?
Nursing homes have been ill-equipped to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus because of the lack of the resources necessary to contain the outbreak, including tests and PPE.
Several conditions at nursing homes exacerbate the spread of the disease:
- Shortages of PPE
- Frequent physical contact between staff and residents
- Employees who work in multiple facilities increase chances for exposure
- Residents sharing rooms
- Transfers of residents from hospitals and other settings
Government Regulatory Policies to Monitor Long-Term Health Facilities
The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 regulates the nursing home facilities that want to receive funding for services from Medicare or Medicaid. The Nursing Home Reform Act contains the Residents’ Bill of Rights ensuring that residents receive protection of individuality, dignity, privacy, and medical needs.
Nursing homes that are subject to the Nursing Home Reform Law must:
- Have sufficient staff in place
- Assess each resident’s particular needs
- Create a comprehensive care plan for each resident, including proper hygiene, diet and nutrition, and medication
- Ensure that residents are always adequately supervised
- Promote all residents’ quality of life
- Maintain each residents’ respect and dignity
- Maintain accurate and complete medical records for each resident
- Submit to unannounced inspections and allow resident interviews
- If a nursing home fails to comply with any of these requirements, penalties can include fines, imposed staff training, increased monitoring, temporary outside management, and loss
If you have lost a loved one or relative in a long-term care facility due to COVID-19 seek the counsel of Goldberg Persky and White. We are experienced in wrongful death cases. We can gather the facts of your case and advise what methods of compensation are available to you so that you can hold those responsible accountable.
Pathak, Neha; Coronavirus and COVID-19: What you should know (2021) [link]
Paulin, Emily; 6 shocking statistics from a year of Covid-19 in Nursing Homes (2021) [link]