Can a Nursing Home Transfer a Resident With COVID-19?

covid-19 causing nursing home transfers

We are all well aware by now of the unprecedented risks COVID-19 presents to nursing home residents due to their age and serious underlying medical conditions. Justice in Aging is a national organization that uses the power of law to fight senior poverty by securing access to affordable health care, economic security, and the courts for older adults with limited resources. The group recently put out an excellent resource for families looking to keep their loved ones safe from nursing home abuse and neglect due to COVID-19 disruptions. Many families are profoundly concerned about how the transfer of residents infected by coronavirus between facilities will be done safely.

Transferring Residents Based on Diagnosis

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) waives some portions of transfer/discharge regulations, but only in three situations:

  1. Transferring residents with COVID-19 or respiratory infection symptoms to a facility dedicated to care of such residents;
  2. Transferring residents without diagnosis or symptoms to a facility dedicated to care of such residents; or
  3. Transferring residents without symptoms of a respiratory infection to another facility for 14-day observation.

Process for “Cohort” Transfers

  • The “new” facility must agree to accept the resident.
  • Advance notice is not required.
  • CMS is “only waiving the requirement … for the written notice of transfer or discharge to be provided before the transfer or discharge. This notice must be provided as soon as practicable.”

Providing notice of a resident transfer should occur “as soon as practicable” but may be of little use if the transfer already has taken place.

Transfer Within Facility

For the sole purpose of separating COVID+ and COVID- residents, CMS has waived regulatory rights to:

  • Share a room by consent of both persons.
  • Receive notice before transfer within the facility.
  • Refuse certain transfers within the facility.

Even during the lockdown period on U.S. nursing homes due to coronavirus infections, most CMS regulations are still valid, but on-site surveys have been limited to disease control measures. Some states have included even stricter enforcements on transfers between medical facilities because of this.

When a resident is transferred from a nursing home, the change can create monumental impacts on the emotional, physical and financial well-being of an already vulnerable individual and those who remain dependent on others for their daily care. Improper discharge, also referred to as patient dumping, is a top complaint filed against Illinois nursing homes. Each year, there is nearly 1,000 such reports received, according to the state’s long-term care ombudsman program.

Fight A Nursing Home Discharge or Involuntary Transfer 

If you or a loved one suffered serious injury or death as a result of an improperly handled transfer, please let the Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin and Perconti review the facts of your situation and advise you of any legal remedies you may have. Our experienced legal team represents people throughout the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and nationwide, winning major lawsuits involving nursing home acquired infections. Please, contact us now for a FREE consultation at 312-332-2872 in Chicago, or toll-free at 1-877-374-1417.

Watch: What can you do if you’re concerned about facilities infection control practices or other issues?


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