Many long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living centers, will request forced arbitration agreements to be signed before a resident has been admitted. And as one of the country’s leading nursing home and abuse law firms, the attorneys at Levin & Perconti believe that these agreements only make it more difficult for residents to seek justice in the case of them being harmed, injured, or neglected.
Forced pre-dispute arbitration:
takes advantage of vulnerable long-term care consumers
An increase in those with declining cognitive abilities – such as dementia – affects an estimated 230,000 people in Illinois, according to the state’s Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to increase by 13 percent by 2025. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that can move slowly and requires unique support for individuals in each of the three stages: early (mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe). Many of the steps can overlap and symptoms become identified as dementia, which is the mental decline that accompanies Alzheimer’s patients.
Early-stage Alzheimer’s (mild)
In this stage, a person may still live independently, be employed, and have close relationships with friends and family. Their symptoms may not be as noticeable to them, but those close to them may start to identify early signs such as:
Thut has been with the firm since 201 and earned his law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. A.J. has successfully settled and tried to verdict a variety of cases, including a $2.77 million jury verdict in a nursing home fall case.
During these difficult times it is important for patients and their families to understand that residents in nursing homes still have the right to expect proper care.
Direct communication with facility staff, including the director of nursing and administration is key. Find out what the staff is doing to prevent and control COVID-19. Here are some things staff should be doing:
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus impacting the nearly 1.4 million patients residing in nursing homes and rehab facilities across the U.S. These individuals include the elderly and severely disabled people who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Coronavirus can lead to a respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. In a growing number of cases, it can be more severe than the flu, and dying from the virus is much more likely for older and health-compromised people.
There is a select group carrying characteristics that put them at higher risk of illness and death related to an infectious disease due to cognitive limitations, which impair their ability to respond to an emergency. This group includes those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Unfortunately, dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is already “one of the only top-10 cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed,” says the Alzheimer’s Association. A growing majority of these individuals depend on care provided by others to manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs, and to keep them in safe environments and reside in nursing homes.
The quick spread of coronavirus and strict isolation measures overtaking U.S. nursing homes has created a stressful time for not only nursing home care staff but all nursing home residents. Many of these residents are battling health conditions, living away from family, and now restricted from visitors and isolated in their rooms, or have been moved into different areas of the facility where they can no longer socialize with others. An individuals’ moral, as well as the types of mental health care resources available in nursing homes, are important considerations to take seriously during these ongoing disruptions.
In the midst of the pandemic, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News performed a survey requesting feedback from nursing home administrators and nursing directors on how they are working to “keep spirits up” during the lockdown and what types of extra attention directed toward residents is being provided.
In a McKnight’s Long-Term Care News survey published on March 30, 2020, more than 77% of the nation’s nursing homes say they are both underequipped and understaffed during the coronavirus pandemic. The findings come as groups of struggling U.S. nursing homes, including several in Illinois, begin their battle with the potentially deadly virus.
New Jersey Nursing Home Evacuated After All Residents Assumed to Have Coronavirus
Several national news sources, including NBC, reported on Wednesday, March 25, that as many as 94 people, including residents and staff, at a New Jersey nursing home, are believed to test positive for coronavirus.
Already, 24 residents at St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge have tested positive. Another 70 have been tested, and all are presumed to be infected with COVID-19. A spokesman for the City of Woodbridge released a statement that the possible outbreak began earlier this month when the first positive on March 17 triggered the additional confirmed cases each day since. The health emergency prompted an evacuation of all residents who are now in the process of being transferred to several nearby CareOne facilities with open beds. That includes 30 residents to Morristown, 20 to Parsippany, 7 to Livingston. At this time, one resident has been hospitalized. CareOne is a chain of assisted living and nursing homes in New Jersey.
Coronavirus: Who Makes Up the At-Risk Long-Term Care User Group?
For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, but for older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. And for residents of nursing homes across the country – the risk is even higher.
In 2015, there were approximately 47.8M Americans over age 65 and 6.3M over age 85, many of who grew to depend on a long-term care facility to support their daily needs. Here is a statistical look provided by Morningstar data on who COVID-19 is impacting in the long-term care setting.
As of March 19, public health officials in Illinois have recognized four long-term care facilities in the Chicago area reporting COVID-19 cases. This includes a possible coronavirus outbreak inside a nursing home in west suburban Willowbrook involving 46 people, including 33 residents and 13 staff.
As public health officials wait on additional test results to come back related to Willowbrook, two residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in Evanston at Three Crowns Park, there is one confirmed case at Admiral at the Lake facility in Chicago’s Edgewater, and a staff member at the Church Creek Senior Living Center in Arlington Heights is also infected. Nursing home advocates and family members of residents are only left to wonder how the viral spread might make its way into other facilities around the state.
Levin & Perconti founder and attorney Steven Levin joined ABC7 to talk about how an already understaffed long-term care system continues to weaken the care of our most vulnerable citizens due to COVID-19.