Key Issues Impacting Nursing Home Residents Due to the Ongoing Pandemic

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Oct 28, 2020 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights

picture of elderly woman on sofaNursing home residents have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. As the year begins to wind down, it is important to look at some of the key issues that continue to plague these vulnerable patients.

If your loved one has been injured or negatively affected by the pandemic due to another’s negligent actions, we are here to help. Contact our firm to learn how by scheduling a free initial consultation with a member of our firm. There is no obligation or cost involved with this meeting.

Lack of PPE and Testing

It may seem hard to believe that more than six months into the pandemic, nursing homes are still having difficulties obtaining supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) and access to testing. Yet, according to the AARP, even after more than 84,000 fatalities in nursing homes alone – approximately 40 percent of the recorded COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. - there is still not enough of either.

An AARP analysis of recent government-provided data revealed that more than one fourth of all facilities nationwide continue to report PPE shortages and nearly 50 percent of these facilities have staff who are currently infected with the virus. In some states, including New Hampshire, Maine and New Mexico, about half of the long-term care facilities have barely a week’s supply of PPE, including surgical masks, N95 respirators, gowns, eye protection and gloves.

Lack of Connection

As families and residents are well-aware, surges of the virus early on led nursing homes to discontinue visitation, along with social group activities within the facilities. This decision, while necessary to help control the spread of the virus, has taken a huge toll on the mental and physical welfare of many nursing home residents.

In the last few weeks, the federal government gave the go-ahead to reinstate safe visitation in nursing homes that have had no new cases for 14 days or greater. Additional reinstatement of visitation guidelines submitted by the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes include, but are not limited to:

  • Reinstating visitation that follows the recommended safety guidelines according to the current phase of reopening within that facility’s state. This could include outdoor visitation, virtual visits, a combination of indoor/outdoor options and even fully indoor options if social distancing and other recommended safety measures are followed.
  • Reimplementing standards for visitor COVID-19 testing, as well as providing training on the proper use of PPE and post-visit disinfecting procedures.
  • Requiring administrators and owners at nursing home facilities to work with and encourage residents to designate an Essential Care Partner to visit them when family and other visitors may not be permitted.

Lack of Transparency and Oversight

Lack of transparency has long been an issue in nursing homes as it relates to the reporting – or underreporting - of nurse staffing ratios, accidents that result in patient injuries, medication errors and more. As the pandemic wore on, it only further magnified everything that was already wrong at these facilities.To help monitor some of these issues, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees onsite surveys and inspections conducted by State Survey Agencies (SSA’s), which are designed to help mitigate complaints, monitor infection control and, overall, help to maintain a safe environment and high standard of care for residents living in these long-term care facilities.

Additionally, CMS implemented an action plan to improve nursing home safety and quality of care nearly a year before the COVID-19 outbreak. The five-part strategy, per Seema Verma, Administrator at CMS, includes strengthening oversight, enhancing enforcement, improving quality, putting patients over paperwork and increasing transparency.

Amid the ongoing spread of the virus, however, (CMS) suspended most onsite surveys, including those for onsite complaints. The only onsite surveys kept in action were those that were in direct response to serious complaints, such as those involving infection control or immediate danger.

When You May Need Legal Help

The pandemic has made looking out for the well-being of your loved one in a nursing home more challenging than ever before. If you suspect your family member is being neglected or abused in his or her facility, we are prepared to help.

Call the law offices of PKSD to schedule your case evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys. There is no cost and no obligation for this meeting. During this consultation, we will look at the contributing factors that may impact whether you have grounds for a case. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs or attorney fees while we work on your case. We only get paid at the end of a case, and only if we recover compensation for you.

Learn more about how we may be able to help during your free consultation with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers today.

Free Consultation. No Upfront Costs. Call 877-877-2228

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