Newly Released Data Shows Long-Term Care Facilities Report 40% of Coronavirus Deaths
Two new analyses of coronavirus deaths throughout the United States have revealed that many fatalities occur at long-term care facilities, as many as 43%. The data comes from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and ABC News. The ABC News report added that the figure is more than 50% in at least 18 states.
Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (updated May 22, 2020)
10 Questions to Ask Your Loved One Quarantined in a Nursing Home
Many family members remain profoundly concerned about how their loved ones are doing while being confined to their nursing homes, without regular visitors and routine inspections to keep up on safeguards to ensure their care is not failing. While this is not an easy time for anyone and distancing remains the most critical measure when dealing with nursing home residents, there may be small things you can do to ease any anxiety or identify the warning signs that something may not be right. The next time you speak with your family member or friend who is a resident, be sure to ask these questions.
Nursing home residents still have the right to proper care and providers should always be held accountable when that care goes badly wrong. It’s no different during these difficult times surrounding COVID-19.
The attorneys at Levin & Perconti have launched over 100 investigations into a number of assisted living, long-term care and skilled nursing facilities that have failed to uphold adequate safeguards and care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak for residents in Cook and surrounding counties in Illinois. We are seeking anyone who has information about the outbreak of COVID-19 at these facilities to contact us.
If you or your loved one has been impacted by COVID in a nursing home, please contact us for a free consultation on whether you have a legal case against the nursing home.
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.
I have a loved one in a nursing home and I’m concerned about COVID-19 exposure. What should I do?
The first step is to call the director of nursing at your family member’s facility and ask about the steps they are taking to protect residents and staff. By this point, all facilities should have a written policy and action plan available for distribution. If your facility does not, request that they create it as soon as possible, and follow up until they do. Facilities should already be following longstanding CDC guidelines for infection prevention. Here are some questions that can guide your inquiry into whether they currently comply with the rules: https://www.cdc.gov/longtermcare/pdfs/factsheet-core-elements-10-infection-prevention-questions.pdf
Although nursing homes are equipped with infection control recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and required to follow them by state and local health agencies – they simply are not. USA TODAY is reporting that “75% of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for failing to properly monitor and control infections in the last three years — a higher proportion than previously known.” These failures, often controlled by understaffed shifts, overworked caregivers, and less than 10% of facilities with infection-control specialty trained staff, all provide proof to predict that nursing homes are going to have even a tougher time preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Steven Levin, founding partner and attorney at Levin & Perconti, recently spoke to USA TODAY on the dangerous yet stagnant issue of the spread of infectious disease in nursing homes, remarking that, “The nursing homes that we deal with have extreme difficulty in handling everyday infections, and it’s an infection-rich environment.”
Over the next 20 years, the country will see a surge in the number of older adults who can no longer care for themselves, as will the number of persons diagnosed with dementia. A sizable amount of these two groups are likely to need long-term care services, one being the age 85 and older population — which is expected to double between 2025 and 2040. And a new report from our Midwest neighbors to the north is showing the most grimace future for an ongoing issue we have in Illinois as well. According to a new report based on a survey of long-term care providers in Wisconsin, vacancies for caregivers increased with nearly 1 in 4 openings going unfilled.
“In the future if there continues to be vacancy rates, there may be concerns down the road about the possible closure of some long-term care facilities,” said John Vander Meer, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living.
More Than 100 Illinois Nursing Homes Named in Final Violators Report of 2019
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has released its final and Fourth Quarter Report of Nursing Home Violators for 2019 highlighting nursing homes that failed to comply with mandatory state regulations. This report dates October 2019 through December 2019. It highlights 111 Illinois facilities, an increase from 71 in the third quarter. The facilities were cited for various violations of the Nursing Home Care Act, a statute that provides nursing home residents and their families with the assurance that proper and safe care will be received.
Illinois facilities with violations in quarter four of 2019 include:
Nursing Home Resident Evictions Continue Due to Medicaid Funding
Nationally, long-term care ombudsmen, who advocate for elderly and disabled residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, received 10,610 complaints about discharges and transfers in 2017, up from 9,192 in 2015. Many of these complaints arise when a facility asks or pressures a resident to leave with “no due process rights, no notice” even though an advanced notice is required.
We agree with the importance of the recent news report by NBC launched over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, that some nursing home facilities illegally evict residents when their Medicaid funding runs short and replace them with short-stay Medicare residents. Still, unfortunately, skilled nursing facilities that discharge residents improperly isn’t anything new to us at Levin & Perconti. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates, “as many as one-third of all residents in long-term care facilities are involuntarily discharged.” We have been sharing concerns and representing families on this issue for some time.