Associated Press: “Residents are suffering and dying from neglect.”
The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin and Perconti support a statement provided by The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care in response to a November 19, 2020, Associated Press report, Not just COVID: Nursing home neglect deaths surge in shadows. The article only confirmed what advocates for residents of long-term care facilities, care workers, and families have known for months: residents are suffering and dying from neglect.
According to the AP:
- In addition to the over 90,000 deaths from COVID-19, there have been at least 40,000 excess deaths in long-term care facilities since the pandemic began.
- These deaths are not attributable to COVID-19, but in part due to neglect that includes starvation and dehydration.
- Residents are dying slowly, painfully – and alone.
These deaths are the tragically foreseeable consequences of years of neglect and abuse at long-term care homes. Before this crisis began, the nationally renowned nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti were working to protect nursing home residents and employees from harm related to poor-performing facilities that continue to fail to meet quality of life care standards.
Understaffed and Overworked Care Employees Remain Significant Care Challenge
In the statement provided by Consumer Voice, advocates say hundreds of U.S. families have reached out for help due to loved ones who have become victims of harmful nursing home neglect and abuse during the pandemic.
The response read, “Family members report that many residents have experienced a significant physical decline, such as losing their ability to move, or sit up or stand up without assistance. Others no longer talk because almost no one has spoken to them since March. There are residents who have not been bathed nor had their teeth brushed for months, and residents who have been confined to their rooms -while missing their eyeglasses and hearing aids. One resident sat in her room with a fractured hip for a month – the result of a fall and lack of medical attention, despite complaints of pain for weeks. Weight loss, bed sores, infections, and cognitive decline are ravaging nursing home residents. Much of this suffering could have been prevented. This unnecessary harm and death must be addressed immediately.”
The pandemic challenges also force nursing home employees to be responsible for an overwhelming number of patients with high care needs. As a disastrous result, proper infection control protocol has become relaxed, and abuse and neglect go left unseen.
National Advocacy Group Calls on Congress and CMS To Do More
In a public statement provided by Consumer Voice, the agency calls on two specific administrative groups to do more and do better.
- Ensure adequate numbers of well-trained and well-compensated staff. Staff are underpaid and overworked. Staff need to receive increased compensation, including hazard pay during the pandemic; adequate benefits, such as health care and paid sick leave; and assistance with childcare.
- They must be provided with sufficient quantities of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). We cannot ask our healthcare professionals to put their lives on the line without properly compensating and protecting them.
- We must also ensure they do not have impossible workloads by establishing a minimum staffing standard. In addition, staff must be properly trained, so they are equipped with the skills, knowledge and competencies they need. Currently, temporary nurse aides are caring for residents, some with only 8 hours of training.
- A plan must be implemented to fully train these staff. Workers must be able to have been provided the knowledge to provide proper care. Training must include basic infection control procedures, such as handwashing and proper use of PPE, all ongoing problems recently cited by federal government.
- Oppose any kind of immunity from civil liability for nursing homes. Since the pandemic began, at least half of the states, including all but one referenced in the AP article, have passed laws preventing residents and families from holding the facilities accountable in court. These laws have sanctioned negligent and harmful care that have allowed facilities to escape any liability. Not only does this mean that facilities in the article will face no repercussions for their substandard care in the past, but that current and future residents face the prospect that this poor-quality care will continue.
Likewise, Consumer Voice says Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services must also act. The agency must:
- Increase oversight of resident care. For months, regulators have rarely been in facilities, and oversight has focused almost exclusively on infection prevention. Poor care has gone undetected and unaddressed. CMS must direct state survey agencies to focus on resident care any time inspectors are in facilities.
- Require facilities to permit families to conduct compassionate care visits. CMS must allow at all times at least one family member to enter facilities and provide essential support and assistance for residents who have suffered physical or psychosocial decline or are experiencing distress: Many states have acknowledged that families can provide the necessary care.
Finally, our attorneys join Consumer Voice leaders in calling on advocates across the country to contact their state and federal representatives and CMS officials to tell them to act now to prevent tens of thousands of Americans from neglect and death. We also want to take this time to remind you to be safe in this uncertain time and take extra precautions with your loved ones.
How Can a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Help During COVID-19?
Levin & Perconti is prepared to work at full capacity during the COVID-19 crisis. clients, and gather all the necessary information and evidence to prove our cases decisive. If you are considering a legal case against an Illinois nursing home related to COVID-19 or want to share your story to help others, please contact us for a free consultation at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872. All calls and discussions with our attorneys are confidential.
Also read: Nursing Home Faces COVID-19 Criminal Charges