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Illinois Lawmakers Introduce “COVID-19 Safety Net” Bill Until In-Person Visitation Resumes

There have been over 70,000 positive COVID-19 cases in Illinois nursing homes and over 10,300 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. Sadly, nearly half of the state’s total death count has been nursing home residents. Many were never able to see their loved ones in person or say goodbye to them before they passed as almost all residents and their family members were prevented from visits for some time. Although the pause was likely necessary to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus, it also triggered concerns of abuse and neglect going unnoticed and a call from industry advocates to do more.

Most families have been forced to use or purchase personal devices for residents, but the failure to coordinate the calls showed how ill-equipped homes and staff are. Sadly, regular calls are not a reality for most Illinois long-term care residents. For some of the luckier residents, virtual visits were enough to keep their loved ones knowing they are being looked after, especially those with cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s disease.

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Levin & Perconti Attorneys Represent Family of Korean War Veteran Who Died During Veterans Home COVID-19 Outbreak

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed against The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Levin & Perconti Law Firm is representing the estate of 90-year-old Korean War veteran Richard Cieski. In November 2020, Mr. Cieski was a resident who died after being exposed to a COVID-19 outbreak at the state-run veterans’ facility, located at 1015 Oconor Avenue in LaSalle, Illinois.

Levin & Perconti partner Michael Bonamarte said that Mr. Ciskei’s death could have been avoided had LaSalle taken appropriate precautions. That includes preventing breaks in infection control practices, understaffing care worker shifts, relaxed masking orders and disregard for proper hand hygiene, and little or no social distancing in some facility areas.

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Medical Malpractice Briefing Includes Facts on U.S. Nursing Home Industry’s Failed Response To COVID

The 2021 update to the briefing book Medical Malpractice: By The Numbers, published by the Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) at New York Law School, has been released and includes the latest statistics and research on issues related to medical malpractice, including long-term care wrongdoing. The 141-page volume includes over 400 linked footnotes and sources. It also discusses how laws could make it harder for patients and their families to place accountability on health care providers and nursing home owners in the case of medical negligence.

Medical Malpractice as it Relates to Long Term Care Providers

burden of nursing home assistants

COVID-19 Proved Just How Unsupported Nursing Assistants Are at U.S. Long-Term Care Facilities

According to the National Direct Care Workforce Resource Center,

more than 600,000 nursing assistants provide personal care, assistance with daily activities, and clinical support for 1.4 million nursing home residents nationwide. In a revealing editorial by the Co-Founder & CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), Lori Porter says the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has been the darkest time for these workers, resulting in failures in care and protection against injuries, illness, and infectious diseases.

the american rescue plan nursing homes

Justice in Aging: How The American Rescue Plan Helps Older Adults

More than 45% of Americans over 65 have trouble meeting their basic needs. As a new administration works to provide COVID-19 relief to older adults, many of who are reliant on Medicaid funding for their health care, including long-term care, a fifth COVID-19 relief package, the American Rescue Plan (H.R. 1319), was signed into law totaling $1.9 trillion on Mar. 11, 2021.

The law is expected to significantly improve health care access and increase economic security for older adults due to the pandemic. Medicaid is the funder for most long-term care in the United States, whether at home or in an institution. An analysis provided by Justice in Aging, an organization committed to fighting senior poverty through the law, outlines the significant provisions impacting older adults, including Illinois nursing home residents and long-term care patients.

vaccination for covid-19 in nursing homes

Older Adults in Illinois Long-Term Care Settings Should Be Vaccinated with Sense of Urgency

It’s been nearly three months since COVID-19 vaccines have been made available for Illinois nursing home residents and staff, making them a priority in the long line of vaccine recipients across the state. Officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) say approximately 414,900 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for Illinois long-term care facilities. A total of 361,971 vaccines have been administered to residents and staff as of Mar. 21, 2021.

Unfortunately, Chicago’s WGN9 reports that Illinois’ largest skilled nursing facility, City View Multicare Center, located at 5825 West Cermak Road in Cicero, has not made it a priority to have residents and staff vaccinated. Employees of the facility, and SEIU Healthcare, one of the fastest-growing union of nursing home workers in the Midwest, says management failed to enroll in the federal program designed to partner skilled nursing facilities like City View with major pharmacies to vaccinate residents and staff to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and outbreaks.

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New Federal Guidelines Expand Visitation Options in Some Illinois Nursing Homes, Families Should Lookout for Signs of Abuse or Neglect

Although the risk of COVID-19 transmission within nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been high, related outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes are down, according to a report by The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. And with many facilities now operating with residents fully vaccinated, in-person nursing home visits are being allowed at some senior living facilities in Illinois.

According to the updated guidance released on March 10, 2021, from CMS, facilities can now allow responsible indoor visitation for all residents unless specific scenarios arise that would limit visitation options, such as an increase in community infections. The updated CDC’ visitation guidance recommends long-term care facilities follow these specific guidelines:

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Warnings Emerge After COVID-19 Outbreak Caused by New Variant of Virus is Detected in Kentucky Nursing Home

The public has been informed of several new variants of the coronavirus for some time, including some of the more known viruses circulating, such as the UK variant, the Brazil variant, or the South Africa variant. But on Mar. 16, 2021, a recent outbreak of COVID-19 involving 41 cases at a nursing home in Eastern Kentucky could be what health officials say was triggered by an entirely new strain. The outbreak involved 14 staff and 27 residents, with several testing positive for the new variant. Health officials in Kentucky say those nursing home residents and staff who have contracted the virus and have been fully vaccinated have not gotten seriously ill and have significantly reduced symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says viruses constantly change through mutation, and “new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear.” At other times, new variants emerge and persist and can be just as dangerous as the initial strain.

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New Study Highlights Ongoing Issues with High Staff Turnover as Major Contributor to COVID Nursing Home Deaths

As almost all U.S. nursing homes are working to vaccinate residents and staff, ongoing issues impacting the care residents require are proving to be the cause behind some of the most horrendous coronavirus neglect cases and disastrous infectious disease outbreaks in history. Authors of a new study published in Health Affairs on Mar. 1 highlight the persistent problems caused by an unstable long-term care workforce as one of the significant underlying threats that contributed to the staggering death tolls of nursing home residents start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 172,000 deaths from the virus had been reported among either residents or employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities by late February. In Illinois, the number of nursing home deaths as of Mar. 5 was 9,894.

As one of the nation’s leading nursing home abuse and neglect law firms, our attorneys found the study’s comprehensive findings were both devastating, but unfortunately, not shocking.

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Legislators Send Nursing Home Reform Package to New York Governor in Response to Disastrous COVID-19 Care

New York state, once ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic and where long-term care tragedies have left many in shock, may soon become the new epicenter for nursing home care reform. State lawmakers began passing several measures on Feb. 22, as scandals break and the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt residents, their families, and underpaid and overworked care teams. And on Wednesday, Mar. 3, the New York Assembly passed another series of nursing home-related bills to increase the transparency of facility violations, require quality assurance, and study long-term care facilities in the state. The lawmakers have said the sweeping reforms were designed to “increase safety and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers living in nursing homes.”

These are the highlights focused on New York’s four overall nursing home quality and coronavirus care-related issues addressed in the reform package. A detailed statement regarding the legislation was released by New York’s Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) on Mar. 4 and can be reviewed in more detail here.

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