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Levin & Perconti Represents Families Impacted by COVID-19 Outbreak at Illinois Veterans’ Home

The recent COVID-19 outbreak at the state-run veterans’ home in LaSalle, several investigations, and the subsequent firing of the home’s administrator, has triggered legal action directed at Illinois officials by the families of at least five dead residents. Levin & Perconti will represent the families, several of whom have described their personal tragedies with tremendous anger and frustration and overwhelming sadness, grief, and sorrow.

In an interview with Chicago’s ABC7 I-Team on December 22, Mike Bonamarte expressed tremendous and urgent concern of the situation, saying that “something happened” to trigger the November COVID-19 outbreak at the facility and that the virus was able to spread “inexcusably” inside beginning in late October, infecting more than 200 residents and staff members. Inadequate safety procedures, staff and leadership negligence, lack of personal protection equipment, and ineffective use of infection control resources likely contributed to the outbreak. Up until then, only one resident and five staff members at the home tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

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State Data Shows Illinois Nursing Home Residents Are Dying at Most Alarming Rate Yet

In the most recent data released by Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials, the state’s nursing-home residents are contracting COVID-19 and dying from it at their highest reported rates yet. Over the past week (December 11-18), public health regulators have recorded 605 deaths among residents of long-term care facilities, assisted-living centers, state-funded veterans’ homes, and other nursing home care sites. The previous highest mortality (and record-setting) death rate was for the first week in December when IDPH logged 480 fatalities among residents within the same groups of facilities.

The new data brings the COVID-19 death toll for Illinois nursing-home residents since the pandemic began in March to a staggering 7,559 or just over 50% of total Illinois fatalities due to the coronavirus, according to a Levin & Perconti nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer analysis of IDPH data.

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October Reminds Us That “Connection Matters” for Illinois Nursing Homes Residents

Every day, Illinois families bring their loved ones to nursing homes all around the state, some feeling certain and others uncertain that they will receive the high-quality care and comfort needed and their rights protected. Unfortunately, willful neglect, preventable accidents and illnesses, and abuse occur even in the most highly-rated facilities. October is a time to remind families and residents of the many rights designed to protect them from these situations.

Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect, and long-term care residents’ value. This year’s theme is “Connection Matters.” The theme emphasizes connections – to family, friends, and the community – as essential components of good health and residents’ quality of life.

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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.

  1. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (updated May 22, 2020)

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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.

  1. What do you know about coronavirus or COVID-19?

Levin & Perconti, Nationally Recognized Leaders in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law, Launches Investigation into Illinois Nursing Homes Amid COVID-19
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.

Steve Levin

A message from Attorney Steven Levin

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.”

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