Well before the coronavirus pandemic, there were ongoing complaints about nursing home care. While families usually investigate the facilities they hope will give their loved ones the 24/7 care they can no longer provide, many, if not most, have been disappointed, if not downright furious, about the level of care. Michael LoGiudice, LLP has been successfully handling lawsuits involving nursing home neglect and abuse for over 20 years.
During the recent pandemic, needless to say, nursing home care has not improved. But the degree to which it has deteriorated is both astonishing and heartbreaking. In many ways, nursing homes have become ground zero for the virus that has spread like wildfire among the population most vulnerable to the disease. If you have had a relative contract COVID-19, be neglected or ill-treated, or suffer a wrongful death during this period, Michael LoGiudice is well-prepared to fight for your rights and the rights of your loved one.
Why Nursing Homes Were Totally Unprepared To Cope With COVID-19
The stresses and strains of nursing home care were already well-established when the virus swept in. These include:
- Alarming shortage of caretakers
- Infrequency of examinations by nurses and doctors
- Lack of ability to isolate contagious patients
- Inadequate sanitation and infection control
- Shortage of supplies
- Inadequate oversight of nursing home facilities
- Government penalties for deficiencies that are too lenient to be effective
Even prior to the present health crisis, outbreaks of contagious illnesses, for example e coli, have been all too common in nursing homes. The inability to separate infected patients from uninfected ones has been just about impossible.
The only way to protect patients, who usually eat together and spend a great deal of time in communal areas, is to restrict them to their rooms. Not only does this seem like a punishment to many of the patients, but most facilities have two patients in each room, so infections and viruses spread anyway. Beyond that, patients with dementia are often incapable of following such restrictions and wander outside the boundaries intended to protect them from contagion.
What made things go from bad to worse when the pandemic hit?
The same delayed response that affected the rest of the county affected nursing homes. There were reports of sickness and deaths in nursing homes due to severe respiratory illnesses early in the year which now, looking back, may well have been COVID-19. These facilities were plagued by the same lack of testing and protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, as other places, except that in nursing homes the general population consisted of sitting ducks — elderly individuals with pre-existing conditions.
In addition, the various caretakers, all of whom came and went daily, each had numerous other contacts, and many used public transportation, exposing them and their patients to one of the most contagious diseases the planet has ever seen.
Other factors that exacerbated the problems included the following:
- As nursing home employees became ill, staff shortages became even more extreme
- Without enough masks and gloves, each infected person infected others more easily
- Because there was so much illness at nursing homes, supplies became even scarcer and there are reports that some nurses brought thermometers and blood pressure cuffs to work with them
- With fewer staff members, patient care deteriorated further, making patients weaker and more likely to succumb to COVID-19
- Because the virus was everywhere, routine health and safety inspections were curtailed
- Once the government, in order to slow contagion, closed nursing homes to visitors, the usual checks and balances of family reportage were much less prevalent
- The more patients who were infected and died, the less the individual nursing homes wanted to be transparent, fearing they would be not only penalized, but shut down
- During the frenzied attempts to care for so many sick patients, record keeping became slipshod and transparency became even more of a rarity
In some cases, patients, nursing home staff, and family members who heard the crisis exploding through phone contact, called the police, but the police no longer had the manpower to respond to every possible emergency. Reports of death, at times as many as 15 in a few days, made patients and those attending to them frantic. One patient reported that when staff closed the door to her room she knew they were transporting another corpse out of the building. According to a CNN report, some nursing homes actually had temporary makeshift morgues.
Nursing Home Failures Should Not Be Tolerated
Though the apex of the COVID-19 pandemic has hopefully passed, coronavirus is likely to be with us for a long time. So will the painful memories of those we love who sickened and/or died in nursing homes, without the comfort of us by their side.
If you have experienced this misery and feel certain that someone close to you was not given proper medical care or attention in a nursing home during these past few months, you do have a place to turn. Nursing home neglect is terrible whenever it occurs and whatever the reason. Seek justice by turning to a sharp nursing home negligence attorney like Michael LoGiudice who will help you obtain restitution and give you the peace of mind you deserve.