COVID-19 has been a difficult time for everyone. Given the high infection rate, practices like social distancing and wearing a mask have been engrained in our minds. Unfortunately, nursing homes have fallen behind in their infection prevention measures, leading to an increase in resident mortality.
Regardless of the circumstances, nursing home residents should feel safe to live in their facility. If a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect related to COVID-19, contact Karlin & Karlin for a free case consultation. Filing a case can help keep the nursing home industry accountable for their actions and save future lives.
Issue #1: Staffing Difficulties
According to Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare database, many of the nursing homes facing high COVID-19 infection rates already had average to poor staffing ratings before the pandemic. The coronavirus has since heightened these previous resident care issues and caused a nursing shortage.
Registered nurses (RNs) play a pivotal role in daily nursing care and are even more important during a pandemic. A staffing shortage, however, means that RNs have new duties — like answering phone calls — which take time away from resident care.
This means that RNs have more responsibilities and less time to implement safe infection prevention procedures. This could mean that the rise in workload coupled with a shorter staff has set nursing homes up for a disastrous pandemic.
Issue #2: Lack of Transparency
Additional issues relate to the lack of watchdog groups and government oversight during the pandemic. Most notably, local nursing home ombudsmen face restrictions in visiting facilities during COVID-19 to document violations. This lack of a watchdog presence, coupled with poor communication to outsiders, may help cover up existing problems and resident care violations.
Issue #3: Poor Infection Prevention Infrastructure
Like the previous two issues, many of the nursing homes facing increased COVID-19 difficulties had existing problems related to infection prevention and response.
Most notably, nursing homes may fail to provide the federal mandatory minimum of 80 sq. feet of usable living space per resident. Some nursing homes had waivers to operate without meeting the requirements before the pandemic, but now tight quarters and crammed living areas have created hotbeds for infection.
Issue #4: Testing Challenges
Due to testing limitations earlier in the pandemic, it was more difficult for workers and residents to quickly receive test results. This left asymptomatic workers and residents intermingling with the healthy population and could have lead to additional COVID-19 infections.
Hopefully, as tests become more readily available, quicker, and easier to administer, nursing homes will be able to better plan and manage at-risk populations to prevent infections.
With all of these issues, however, the families of nursing home residents need to examine their situation. The COVID-19 crisis has led to a poorly-handled response and many negligent resident deaths.
If your loved one has been infected by or died from COVID-19 while in a nursing home, consider contacting experienced nursing home neglect attorneys. If you file a claim, you can hold the nursing home industry to the appropriate standards and help prevent subsequent preventable deaths.