Pennsylvania DOH Releases Data on Coronavirus Nursing Home Deaths
June 8, 2020
After facing weeks of pressure, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has finally released data on how many patients have died from Coronavirus, or COVID-19, in each nursing homes across the state. Residents of skilled nursing facilities account for more than two-thirds of the total deaths in Pennsylvania. So far, more than 5,800 Pennsylvanians have died from the virus, which is a highly contagious respiratory illness. According to the State Health Secretary, residents in long-term care facilities are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the many risks related to COVID-19.
Officials from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and other organizations were among the first to push the PA Department of Health to release its numbers on each facility instead of solely providing generalized information. Fighting for transparency is critical for a few reasons, like being to be able to learn from the health and safety failures that occurred at these facilities and resulted in preventable illnesses and deaths.
Illnesses and Deaths in State Nursing Facilities
On average, long-term facilities (like nursing homes and personal care homes) across the state lost approximately 12% of their total residential populations. Facilities in Philadelphia that had more than 5 deaths also had average infection rates of 44%, which means that nearly one-half of their residents tested positive for the virus. Some long-term homes lost more than one-third of their residents. In some cases, facilities reported having more residents who tested positive for Coronavirus than the total number of beds at the homes themselves. DOH officials and representatives from facilities reporting numbers like these have yet to say anything other than they promise to look into the concerning discrepancies that the reports have uncovered.
Both smaller and larger facilities report being hit especially hard by the contagious respiratory virus. Out of the twenty Pennsylvania facilities with the highest death rates, only 2 had the ability to house more than 100 residents. Similarly, the largest facilities also reported high death rates. Many nursing facilities claim they had no way to prepare for the unexpected pandemic – but the truth is that safety and health inadequacies and failures have plagued nursing facilities for years, and this latest tragedy is yet another example of negligence that led to a largely preventable loss of life.
Safety Failures in Long-Term Care Facilities: Elder Abuse and Neglect
Many people have loved ones who live in nursing homes. While most skilled nursing facilities provide excellent care and services, the rapid growth of for-profit centers has paved the way for far too many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. Some of the most common safety and health failures that occur in long-term care facilities include:
- Staffing problems, which includes low staffing numbers and a lack of well-trained, certified nursing assistants on staff
- Poor supervision. Poor supervision can lead to falls, which are one of the most common types of nursing home injuries
- Lack of care for a patient’s personal hygiene (e.g. unclean or ill-fitting, missing, or damaged clothing, body odor, dirty skin, etc.)
- Failure to provide proper medications
- Ignored medical and/or dental concerns and complaints
Nursing home abuse is the intentional abuse of residents by staff members or other residents at the facility. Elder abuse like this can be psychological (such as isolation from family members and/or friends, verbal harassment, and unintentional neglect), physical, or sexual. Nursing home neglect results from a lack of compassion and/or care for the wellbeing of residents accompanied by the failure to provide basic necessities like medication, shelter, food, and water.
If you want to determine whether you or a loved one should file a legal claim for elder abuse or neglect, someone at our firm can help answer your questions. Contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Negligent Nursing Homes
With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.