Nursing Home Chain Violated Federal Disease Control Standards
The coronavirus proved to be devastating and deadly to residents of nursing homes across America. It also raises disturbing questions about the quality of care and infection control in care home settings.
This month, the Washington Post reported on how nursing homes operated by Life Care Centers of America violated federal standards intended to curtail the spread of the outbreak even as COVID-19 swept across America claiming thousands of elderly lives. At least 35,000 nursing and care home residents have died because of the virus. Additionally, reporting limitations mean the actual number is likely higher.
Evaluation of Inspection Reports for Homes Violating Federal Standards
The Post obtained and reviewed 26 inspection reports of homes operated by Life Care Centers of America. Out of those, regulators overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid found deficiencies at 10 of the locations, according to the article.
Inspections at nursing homes across the nation found violations that could spread infectious diseases. The report highlighted an aide in a Michigan nursing home who delivered food without gloves or a gown. In another care facility in the same state, the article highlighted the transfer of a piece of equipment from a coronavirus isolation room to a virus-free room without it being first being disinfected. The article listed actions taken against Life Care Centers of America in previous years. They included lawsuits and a federal investigation.
Life Care Centers of America made headlines early in the outbreak because it owns Life Care Center of Kirkland, a Washington state home that experienced the first reported outbreak of the virus in the United States in February.
Nursing homes have accounted for a staggering number of coronavirus deaths in the United States. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found these deaths account for at least half of the fatalities in 14 states.
The report found deaths in long-term facilities made up 59 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Virginia and 63 percent of all pandemic-related deaths in North Carolina as of May 7.
Dr. Sunil Parikh, of Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut, told the Guardian many nursing homes reacted slowly to the pandemic. He said limited testing and a shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks hampered efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus in nursing and residential homes. Most nursing homes can still only test residents with symptoms, even though the disease is also known to spread from people who are not showing symptoms.
The Guardian reported Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not even promise to track all nursing home deaths until April 19, suggesting the issue could be even more serious than the statistics suggest.
Grim stories emerged from nursing homes across the nation over the last few months. Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center near Richmond reported 51 resident deaths from COVID-19.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called in members of the state national guard to help long-term care facilities after 17 bodies piled up at one home. New York State is accused of sending 4,500 patients recovering from coronavirus to nursing homes where they posed a danger to other residents.
The Post investigation is further evidence many nursing home chains are putting profit above the safety of their residents. Even before the pandemic hit, they were often running homes on a shoestring budget with a skeleton staff. Finding workers willing to risk their health in nursing homes is an even bigger challenge in the COVID-19 era.
How COVID-19 May Change Nursing Homes
CNBC reported the coronavirus is likely to change nursing homes in the future. Tests are likely to be carried out more often. However, questions over who will pay for them have not been resolved.
Nursing homes also face questions about how long staff members who test positive should remain at home and who will replace them. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it mandatory for nursing home workers to be tested twice per week. Other states are likely to impose new standards as they review the devastating effect of the pandemic on care homes.
Contact our Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Today
Our Virginia nursing home abuse and negligence lawyers see many instances of elderly and vulnerable residents who needlessly suffer illnesses and injuries at care homes. Few things are as distressing as the mistreatment of an elderly resident at a facility that is meant to care for them. Please contact us today if you suspect a loved one was subjected to elder abuse.