Articles Posted in National Nursing Home News

Nursing Homes Must Report COVID-19 Sicknesses and Deaths

COVID-19 has an alarming infection rate across the U.S., now totaling more than 672,000 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Many of the individuals at most risk of a COVID-19 infection in Illinois reside at one of the state’s 1,200 long-term care facilities, responsible for the care of more than 100,000 individuals. Several advocates for quality long-term care are now raising questions about how accurate the reporting of COVID-19 cases among Illinois residents truly is and how that may be causing a delay in preventing the spread of the disease.

Levin & Perconti partner and attorney Steven Levin spoke to Chicago ABC7 about the role of inaccuracies in reporting COVID-19 cases in the state, saying, “I believe that reported cases are the tip of the iceberg. I believe we are going to find a scary situation once independent observers can go into the nursing homes to see what’s happened.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says as many as 305 long-term health care facilities have felt the impact of the highly contagious virus, with many nursing homes experiencing wide-spread community transmission. While there is no publicly available list of Illinois facilities battling coronavirus infections, on Wednesday, April 15, the state reported 1,587 cases associated with long-term facilities and 296 related deaths, including residents and 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.

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.

The survey found:

new jersey nursing home outbreak

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.

As the country is wrapped in a global pandemic never witnessed before by many, it’s important to make predictions about which groups of people will be most affected by coronavirus, or COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that older adults carry the characteristics that put them at greater risk of illness and death related to the virus. These adults may have limitations which impair their ability to respond to an infectious disease or emergency, such as:

  • Disabilities that have impaired their mobility

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.”

Steve Levin

A message from Attorney Steven Levin

By now it seems self-evident that the nursing homes and assisted living centers housing many of our elderly and most vulnerable citizens are uniquely susceptible to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

We know that the disease is particularly dangerous for older people. We understand intuitively that a site where older people — some of whom cycle in and out of hospitals, bringing germs back and forth — live in close quarters, with shared spaces and resources, faces heightened risk for infection and contagion.

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

Coronavirus Outbreak Reported at U.S. Nursing Home

Coronavirus Outbreak Prompts Long-Term Care Facilities to Follow Updated Infectious Disease Guidelines, Provide Stay Well Tips for Staff, Residents, and Visitors

Managing the care of more than 2.2 million people living in U.S. long-term care settings, many with underlying health complications, without the spread of rapidly growing pathogens, is difficult and can cause severe complications to residents. And during a viral outbreak, such as the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19), nursing homes will become even more challenged. The new virus is thought to spread primarily via droplets in the air, similar to other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, and has been identified in more than 85,000 people worldwide and led to nearly 3,000 deaths, said officials from the World Health Organization.

Unfortunately, an outbreak of the novel contagious illness has become known at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, near Seattle. The event has left four residents dead and many others – including care staff – hospitalized. Also, of the nursing home’s 108 residents and 180 staff members, more than 50 have shown signs of possible COVID-19 infections, officials said. In Illinois, the coronavirus disease should be especially worrisome for nursing homes. In the final state inspection report of 2019, more than 100 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.

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