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Nursing Homes Failed to Follow Federal Guidelines: Remain COVID-19 Hotspots

August 24, 2020

Throughout the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic, the larger concern has always been placed on the elderly. The ones most susceptible to illness, and the least prepared to battle a virus like this where the general public’s primary concern. Unfortunately, the very people who care for these individuals are the ones who failed them. Nursing homes experience flu response year after year, and many shut down during each flu season. They know that their patients are the highest risk portion of the population.

When the coronavirus hit, many nursing homes outright ignored or failed to follow federal guidelines that would have protected their residents. Now, families all across the Nation are experiencing their loved ones facing extreme illness and possible death. To make matters worse, the one response that nursing homes have seen to implement is that families can’t visit, so now the exposed residents are forced to face COVID-19 without their loved ones. If you feel that your loved one is at risk, contact our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys today.

What Were the Federal Nursing Home Requirements?

The Occupational Safety and Hazard Association is otherwise known as OSHA, produced a comprehensive guide for nursing homes and long-term care workers. This list included guidance such as encouraging workers to stay home, screening both workers and residents regularly for symptoms, monitoring precautions, following all CDC and guidance, maintaining six feet of distance between workers, and residents when possible, and much more.

These were largely not followed. Many workers took to social media to report that their establishments require them to appear for work even though they were sick or show symptoms. Additionally, other videos that have surfaced showed large staff meetings, ongoing president activities, and non-organized group activities between coworkers in long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

What was brought forward to the general public’s attention was a large disregard for the redient’s safety.

Emergency Preparedness Issues Aren’t New.

Emergency preparedness sounds like something the medical community and Facilities should be rather interested in. But there’s a long history of nursing homes and long-term facilities fighting emergency preparedness initiatives. Some of these fights are because the recommendations or requirements seem a bit too extreme, and somehow put forth suggestions for a compromise. Those aren’t the issues that are up for discussion here.

Way back in 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services determined that across the country, nursing homes were not prepared for an emergency. That finding didn’t produce any action. Then four years later, in 2009, the government accountability office determined that health care providers in long-term facilities and nursing homes were ill-prepared to handle a flu pandemic. The swine flu ravaged nursing homes, but still, there was no action until 2013.

In 2013 the nursing home industry very publicly objected to the CDC’s new recommendations for emergency preparedness. The industry is so bad that new requirements to participate in Medicaid or Medicare programs were both burdensome and costly. There was no formal response, only that the new regulations were not adopted by the industry, and there were no consequences for this reaction.

This pattern of fighting against regulations to protect residents continues to this day, even in the midst of a pandemic. Lobbyists for the nursing home industry largely push back against any new regulation or requirement, and the result is that 40% of coronavirus deaths link directly to nursing homes.

So, is this neglect? On a large scale, this is neglect because the regulations put into place to protect people were ignored or fought against with little or no reasoning other than the requirements being a burden.

When to Alert Authorities of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

For many who have had their elderly loved ones contracted COVID-19 while in a nursing home, the pressing question is: “did the home do everything to deter contraction of COVID?” The likely answer is no. Nursing homes actively fought against emergency preparedness for the spread of infection and disease long before the coronavirus existed as it does today. The result is that when the federal regulations for a response to the coronavirus went into place, many nursing homes failed to follow the guidelines.

That, in itself, is a type of neglect. There were obvious regulations already in place for emergency preparedness, and by and large nursing homes across the country failed. Additionally, nursing homes across the country failed to acknowledge or appropriately respond to Federal requirements. If you believe that your loved one experienced nursing home abuse or neglect during the COVID-19 outbreak, contact Connell Law.