COVID-19 Outbreak Highlights Just How Underequipped, Understaffed U.S. Nursing Homes Are

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:

  • More than 77% of respondents said their facilities were experiencing personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.
  • Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) said their locations were using homemade or improvised PPE, or reusing it. Masks, gowns, gloves and shoe covers are just some of the infection control products falling under the PPE label.
  • Nearly half of the respondents (48%) said they have workers “calling in sick” due to or exhibiting signs of COVID-19.
  • More than 19% of survey respondents reported that COVID-19 had been detected in at least one resident or worker at their facility.
  • Over half (51%) of the survey respondents said their buildings were not currently equipped to handle COVID-19 patients.
  • More than 15% said their facilities already had been pressured to admit COVID patients from the hospital, while 72% said they hadn’t and 12% weren’t sure.
  • A majority of respondents have observed some kind of anxiety among staff.

The participants included 350 of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News readers. Responses were generated from a weekend email seeking long-term care workers’ views on the virus’s effects on their facility. The biggest group of responders identified themselves as owners, operators or administrators. McKnight’s also said the survey results do “reflect a distressed industry seeking answers to challenges that could grow by the day.”

Coronavirus Numbers Triple Throughout U.S. Nursing Homes in Just One Week

Individuals who live in nursing homes remain most at risk of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is aware of cases at more than 400 long-term care facilities as of Tuesday, March 31, up from 147 just a week ago. Several advocates set out to protect long-term care residents are making it known that federal and state governments should be doing more to stop the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes as CMS begins adjusting regulations and delaying nursing home inspections intended to keep residents safe as outbreaks are occurring.

These challenges force employees to be responsible for an overwhelming number of patients with high care needs. As a result, proper infection control protocol has become even greater relaxed or ignored than during pre-coronavirus days.

Illinois Nursing Home Negligence Related to Coronavirus

If a loved one has sustained a serious infectious disease complication resulting from neglect or missed medical treatments provided by a nursing home, or the intentional understaffing of its workforce, we can help. Please reach out to Levin & Perconti, a Chicago-based law firm ready to provide you with a free nursing home abuse or provider negligence consultation at (312) 332-2872.

Also read: Nursing Home Inspections Take Back Seat During COVID-19


Video Transcript

How can families promote good safe care and keep up resident morale? Find out what steps the facility is taking to keep residents safe. Request that the administrator tell families how the facility performed on it’s self-assessment of its infection control practices. Ask how the facility will provide updates on their loved one and whom they should contact if they have questions. Request that the facility set up a schedule for when they can connect with their loved one by phone, video, window visiting or some other method. Ask the administration to seek permission from the family of other residents to share their email addresses with each other. Families can create a group email and use it to communicate with other family members.

Bring questions and concerns to the facility or the ombudsman program or provide support to one another. If you have any additional questions, you can still reach our attorneys at Levin & Perconti. We are staying safe and working largely remotely, but all of the calls to our main office could be rerouted to individual attorneys or staff members if you have questions. Or you can email questions to Again, that’s My name is Mike Bonamarte, I appreciate your time. Please stay safe.


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