OAK BROOK, IL (April 9, 2020) – Nationwide, at least 450 nursing home deaths have been attributed to coronavirus as of last week.
In Texas nursing homes COVID-19 is spreading fast, but many of the state’s officials are keeping important information regarding the outbreaks, like numbers and names of the facilities, from the public. This is not sitting well with nursing home residents, family members, and nursing home advocates.
Those with chronic health problems and the elderly are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus pandemic, which leaves nursing home residents especially vulnerable. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer or a weakened immune system is associated with worse health outcomes.Recent public health inspections found that more than 1/3 of nursing facilities nationwide did not follow hand-washing guidelines.More than 1,000 nursing home infections have been reported in New York, which has been the nation’s epicenter for COVID-19 cases. The state has seen at least 179 nursing home deaths, which make up nearly 15% of New York’s reported coronavirus death toll.
And in Louisiana — another growing coronavirus outbreak hot spot — nursing home fatalities account for about 16% of the state’s death toll, and state officials have regularly reported the total number of infected residents and deaths.
As of last week, the state reported 60 long-term care residents had died. However, recently Louisiana officials stopped releasing the names of nursing homes where there are clusters of COVID-19 infections.
Infection control problems fuel the problem
In the past several months, inspectors have increased oversight of facilities with histories of infection control problems. Recent public health inspections found that more than one-third of nursing facilities nationwide did not follow hand-washing guidelines and one-fourth did not properly use personal protective equipment meant to limit the spread of the disease.
Wondering how Illinois fared? View the Chicago area nursing homes that received violations when inspected by the Illinois Department of Public Health
About 93,000 people live in Texas nursing homes, and the vast majority of Texas’ more than 1,200 licensed nursing homes have recent citations for deficient infectious disease prevention measures. Inspectors found problems — many of them deemed minor, such as staff failing to wash hands properly or change gloves — at more than 80% of Texas nursing homes in the past three years. Nationally, Texas has the second-highest total number of infection-related citations over the past three years with 1,855 — second only to California — and had the 11th-highest rate of citations among all states.
Preventing coronavirus-related nursing home deaths
Although visitations from relatives of loved ones in nursing homes have been off-limits in Texas since mid-March, routine calls to inquire about any coronavirus infections have been met with some resistance. Many relatives have been told “no” when they asked whether a COVID-19 information system was in place.
Some public officials, including Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, have encouraged families to remove their loved ones from nursing facilities to keep them safe from coronavirus.
But experts say those decisions should not be taken lightly. Family members should consider the following when making those tough decisions: “What are your resources to care for that person? Can you manage their fundamental health problem? Can you also, on top of that, keep them isolated?”
Many low-paid nursing home staff members work at multiple facilities. To limit the risk of health care employees spreading the virus from one facility to another, nursing homes should ask them to work at only one location, but doing so will come with costs to health care workers. Wage supplementing would have to occur in order for many to be able to do that.
When to Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
When you trusted an long-term living facility to care for your loved one, you thought it would offer a safer and better quality of life than you could provide. If you know or suspect that your loved one’s death in a nursing home was due to a nursing home negligence (read about signs of neglect here), you may be able to receive compensation for your loss. To learn more, please call our nursing home abuse lawyers at (630) 684-2332 for a free consultation regarding your case.