The first COVID-19 death in the entire United States took place in a nursing home: A LifeCare Center in Kirkland, Washington, which was eventually linked to at least 37 resident deaths and an outbreak among two-thirds of the staff and residents. Now, the nursing home facility is facing over $600,000 in fines from federal and Washington State officials, after an investigation showed that the facility had been plagued by repeated problems.
This problem is not unique, unfortunately. Thousands of nursing homes across the country have long been understaffed, under-resourced, and ill-prepared to handle infections, even without a pandemic. Because the elderly and sick face significantly higher risks of serious COVID-19 infection, nursing home staff and administrators have a clear responsibility to prepare their facilities as much as possible before the virus hits. To assist them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines intended to help nursing homes prepare for COVID-19.
When it comes to protecting elderly residents, it’s critical that nursing homes do the following before the virus hits:
- Designate a special team to handle COVID-19 preparedness planning
- Carefully analyze available resources, including ventilators and face masks, and try to fill any gaps in equipment
- Implement and enforce social distancing guidelines
- Provide staff and residents with handwashing stations, hand sanitizer, and other methods to stay hygienic
- Create a process to identify infections and keep the sick residents isolated
- Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to all staff and guests
- Give the numbers of local health officials to staff and residents so that they can report COVID-19 symptoms independently if needed
If you have a loved one currently living at a nursing home, it is critical to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you suspect that they are not receiving appropriate care and consideration from staff. In ordinary circumstances, neglect and abuse can have serious consequences for seniors – and the current pandemic makes the possibility of a tragic outcome even more likely. At DiPasquale Moore, our experienced nursing home attorneys understand the laws governing these facilities and can help you understand if you have a claim for compensation.
Contact us today at (888) 743-1030 for a free consultation with our experienced team.