COVID-19 in Nursing Homes - Learn More.

Articles Posted in Nursing Home Staff

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.

Steven Levin Speaks with Chicago’s ABC7 About Coronavirus and Understaffed Nursing Homes

Nursing Home Industry Makes Plea for Protective Masks and Gowns for Workers

On Friday, March 13, Illinois nursing homes, along with every other long-term care facility in the U.S., were told to shut down visits to residents, take steps to isolate residents from one another and start screening for coronavirus symptoms. In Illinois, a nursing home located southwest of Chicago is battling the state’s first long-term care facility coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, March 19, nearly 50 people, including both residents and staff at the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, were tested positive for the highly-contagious disease. Many more staff and residents are expected to be confirmed. Worldwide, “more than 200,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported, and about 8,200 have died,” according to the White House.

Adding concerns to an already highly susceptible group of people, comes a plea from the industry leader representing the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes. David Gifford, chief medical officer at the American Health Care Association, is calling for drastic support efforts and warning that many of these facilities are likely to run out of the tools, resources, staff, and personal protective equipment necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and treat infected residents. Gear includes protective masks and gowns. The industry group has asked other health care facilities such as dental offices to donate any unneeded supplies to nursing homes in their communities.

my relative has coronavirus

Federal Agencies Restrict Nursing Home Visitor Access as Coronavirus Spreads

As of March 10, 2020, there are now more than 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., according to the state and local health agencies, governments, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nineteen individuals in Illinois have tested positive for COVID-19. The highly contagious disease which puts the elderly and those with underlying health conditions into respiratory distress, has businesses, schools, and health agencies on heightened alert. Nursing homes especially have been called upon to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Stricter guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH), and the Illinois Health Care Association is rapidly increasing for these facilities.

The most recent updated federal nursing home guidance comes from a memo delivered on March 9, by CMS, the agency in charge of regulating and enforcing care standards for the nation’s long-term care network.

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.”

Survey Shows Long-Term Caregivers are in Short Supply
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.

Summary of Long-Term Caregiver Survey Results

management errors in nursing homes

Iowa Nursing Home with Illinois Ties Added To Federal Watch List

An Iowa nursing home in Dallas County has joined other troubled homes on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Special Focus Facilities (SFF) list due to its established pattern of numerous, serious violations related to resident care. Rowley Memorial Masonic Home in Perry is responsible for 40 older residents. It is run by Health Dimensions Group, a Minnesota company that also manages nursing homes in Illinois and six other states.

Inspectors recently cited the Iowa home for:

chronic nursing home problems

New Investigation Shows Continual Lax in Oversight of U.S. Nursing Homes

State-licensed elder facilities in Illinois may include assisted living facilities, residential or personal care homes. Each is supposed to be a place for individuals to go when they are no longer able to care for themselves, require help with daily tasks or a managed medical or physical rehabilitation. Unfortunately, dozens of investigations into these facilities across the county have revealed a repetitive cycle in relaxed state-licensed oversight, understaffing, preventable injuries, dangerous abuse and neglect, and tragic deaths.

The most recent investigation making headlines comes from a partnership between Vermont Public Radio and Seven Days. Seven Days is an alt-weekly publication distributed throughout Vermont. The news sources told the story of 78-year-old Marilyn Kelly, a resident placed in a 13-bed care facility by the name of Our House Too to help manage her dementia. According to the report and interviews by the woman’s children, it only took eight months for a flurry of poor care and neglectful events to arise that ultimately ended in her alleged wrongful death.

nursing home security failure

Nursing Home Resident Was Smothered to Death by Signed-In Visitor

Police in Florida have arrested William Hawkins, 47, after being charged with breaking into the Tiffany Hall Nursing & Rehab Center in Port St. Lucie and smothering a 95-year-old resident to death with a pillow. The man matched the description provided by staff members and was also listed as a visitor for the victim. The murder happened in January 2020.

The man reportedly confessed to the crime while speaking to his estranged sister in jail and explained that the nursing home resident had written a book about him that upset him. According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Hawkins answered “yes” when asked if he smothered the victim and confessed to planning the killing for years.

nursing home medicine stolen
Doctors, nurses, and other nursing home staff are more often being caught and charged with prescription medication theft and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The most appealing of all include opioids, powerful medications prescribed by physicians for nursing home residents with moderate to severe pain, and those suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Residents who are taking opioids are also more commonly prescribed pain adjuvants and other addictive or ‘street profitable’ medications that are likely to be stolen by staff. These may include controlled substances such as Benzodiazepines. Many nursing home residents receive Benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, seizures, panic disorders, depression, muscle relaxation, and insomnia. These drugs are also frequently stolen or abused by nursing home staff members.

Some of the most common opioids and Benzodiazepines that are frequently stolen from residents include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
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