Following the 2009 recession, and October 1st shooting, the Las Vegas/Henderson area has experienced its share of difficult time. The impacts of COVID-19 add a new element to this difficult history. However, we are confident in the ability of our community and its people to get us through these difficult times.
During these unique and unpredictable circumstances, some of the most vulnerable among us are at the greatest risk of injury and death. These are our loved ones that live within long term nursing facilities, elder care homes, and homes for special needs adults. As of March 30, 2020, more than 400 of the 15,000 US nursing facilities had an outbreak of coronavirus among its residents. According to the CDC these numbers may very well be understated. In Minnesota, one fo the few states that publicly discloses outbreaks in care facilities, reported 42 facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks on April 4. According to CDC numbers, of the 2300 confirmed COVID-19 cases in long term care facilities ended in 450 deaths. A mortality rate of 20 percent.
The residents of long-term care facilities are the most vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19. Many fit the profile of those most at risk—people with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, asthma, diabetes, or compromised immune systems.
Worse, the environments in many facilities encouraged spread of this disease. Residents and staff congregated in day rooms or dining rooms. Staff moved from resident to resident, often without any protective equipment. Unrelated residents often shared rooms, especially those low-income residents on Medicaid.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) laid out guidance for long term care facilities. Yet, even with these guidelines one of the major issues that these claims present are the lack of proper precautions facilities are utilizing to protect the very vulnerable among us. More and more state and local leaders are finding that long term facilities that house these vulnerable patients simply were not adhering to proper cleaning and hygiene protocols to protect their patients. Under the most normal of circumstances caregivers move from room to room assisting residents, thus providing a further challenge in limiting the spread of infections. But under these circumstances facilities compound the already existing risk by not providing staff with paid sick leave, forcing caregivers to continue to work even while experiencing symptoms. Further, staff and residents also do not consistently wash their hands, a perennial problem in health care facilities, and thereby spread the virus to residents. Finally, many facilities simply fail to provide adequate work protection and supplies for their staff to further protect the residents.
A vitally important question is how to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at care facilities. These care facilities need to be taking steps, many of which are simply familiar infection control practices. Many are not adhering to CDC recommendations that caregivers in such facilities simply wash their hands routinely, prior to assisting or interacting with a resident. Additional guidelines are for the facility to use personal protective equipment (PPE), and nonpunitive sick leave policies to help keep potentially contagious staff away from facilities. Further, the physical location of residents is also important, such as moving those with suspected infection to private rooms or “cohorting” suspected cases into single units.
Families that see and feel that a loved one residing in such a facility may be experiencing deficiencies in this area, and that their loved one has suffered a COVID-19 infection is a serous matter. You can, and should, demand that the facilities management be utilizing these best practices to protect your loved one.
Together we will seek to get through these difficult times. But be mindful that there are things that facilities can do to protect those in their care. We can vigilantly seek to ensure that they do this. Our firm is prepared to assist any family seeking to ensure these facilities are maintaining the safest of standards. Jones Wilson is, and will be, here to help you in any way we can to deal with whatever comes our way.
Do You Have A Loved One In A Care Facility And Need Legal Help?
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or care facility and need feel you need legal help you can speak to an experienced attorney Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.