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.
According to the memo:
“Facility staff should regularly monitor the CDC website for information and resources … Per CDC, prompt detection, triage and isolation of potentially infectious residents are essential to prevent unnecessary exposures among residents, healthcare personnel, and visitors at the facility. … frequent monitoring for potential symptoms of respiratory infection as needed throughout the day … train and prepare staff to improve infection control and prevention practices. … Facilities experiencing an increased number of respiratory illnesses among patients/residents or healthcare personnel should immediately contact their local or state health department for further guidance.”
Review the full response by CMS and further guidance for infectious disease control and prevention of coronavirus disease here.
CMS is also calling for nursing home providers to “actively screen” and limit visitor access to facilities, and visitors should only have access to their loved one’s room. Strict restrictions should be made to visitors who display symptoms of respiratory infections or have been exposed to COVID-19. The AHCA has added that providers limit access to only essential visitors, like healthcare personnel.
Chicago Nursing Homes Are Implementing Infection Control and Emergency Preparedness
Illinois has approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities serving more than 100,000 young and elderly residents, according to IDPH. On Monday, March 9, state health officials in Illinois held a news conference announcing that state health officials have “restricted access to nursing homes in the Chicago area to one adult visitor each day through March 18 for each end-of-life resident or resident with dementia, with visitors to be screened for illness.”
Understaffing is expected to be a contributing factor in the spread of coronavirus in Illinois homes, many of which already don’t meet minimum staffing requirements set out in Illinois law. In 2019, an investigation by Kaiser Health News and The Chicago Tribune found that at least a fourth of Chicago-area nursing home residents live in facilities that aren’t providing the mandated 2.5 hours of direct care daily for residents.
U.S. nursing homes in Washington have been home to related outbreaks, including a five-star CMS rated facility in Kirkland, where more than a dozen patients have already died, and other long-term care facilities in King County in Washington have residents and staff who tested positive for COVID-19. As of Wednesday, March 11, 2020, there is yet to be an Illinois nursing home that has reported a coronavirus outbreak.
Free Consultation: Respected Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
If a loved one has sustained a serious infectious disease complication resulting from neglect or missed medical treatments provided by a nursing home or due to a dangerously low level of care staff, they may be entitled to compensation. Please reach out to Levin & Perconti now for a free consultation at (312) 332-2872.