Pennsylvania to Spend $175 Million to Improve Coronavirus Nursing Home Safety
August 12, 2020
There are approximately 700 nursing homes – and nearly 2,000 long-term care facilities – in Pennsylvania, all of which have been struggling to maintain health and safety efforts as the Coronavirus continues to spread. Officials first raised concerns over catastrophic nursing home safety failures just months ago. In response, the state decided to funnel $175 million into leading a response against the virus, which has wreaked particularly catastrophic results on some of the Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable: senior citizen nursing home residents.
More than 4,460 residents in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, assisted living communities, and residential homes have died from COVID-19 so far, leaving many lawmakers and concerned citizens wondering if the numbers could have been kept lower had facilities implemented a comprehensive safety plan months ago. The number of nursing home deaths are staggering. Overall, long-term care facilities lost around 12% of their residential populations, with residents accounting for nearly 70% of the state’s total COVID-19-related deaths. At least 200 facilities across the state had a minimum of five deaths each, and in one facility that was hit especially hard, 78 residents died. Another facility had 48 fatalities.
The Details of the State’s Plan
The plan requires that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services approve six “health collaboratives,” or collaborations between local health systems and local and state governmental agencies. Here are just a few examples of the collaboratives’ goals:
- In-house infection control
- Expanded testing to include staff and residents who are asymptomatic
- Rapid response teams comprised by medical professionals who will identify and control outbreaks, provide personal protective equipment (PPA) and supplement staffing needs
- Guidance and educational support from volunteer networks including the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State Hershey Medical Center
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made it abundantly clear that older individuals are at the highest risk for developing more serious complications attributed to COVID-19. In fact, 8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States are among people 65-years-old and older. Other risk factors aside from age that are common amongst nursing home residents include having an underlying medical condition or medical conditions, and living in a congregate (or group) setting.
Complications from COVID-19
Some of the serious medical complications related to COVID-19 that senior citizens who live in long-term care facilities face are:
- Septic shock
- Multi-organ failure
- Acute respiratory failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS
- Acute cardiac, liver, and/or kidney injury
- Secondary infections including strep and staph infections
Ensuring that all nursing home staff and residents – even those who are not showing symptoms – are tested (and that any subsequent infection is under control) is critical in residential congregate settings. As a highly contagious respiratory illness that spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person when they cough, sneeze, or speak, COVID-19 can sometimes be a silent killer. In some cases, symptoms do not appear until 2 to 14 days after exposure, but during that, same time an unknowingly infected individual can still spread the illness to others. In group care settings, the consequences from this can be – and due to safety failures often are – catastrophic.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing facilities have long been hailed for their benefits, like providing skilled nursing and support care to at-risk individuals and for creating a social living atmosphere for people who might otherwise be stuck living in isolation. Despite the fact that there are many excellent facilities out there, the rapid boom of the nursing home industry and the growing aged population has given way to an influx of nursing home neglect, abuse, and injury cases.
It is clear that nursing home owners have been overwhelmed and unprepared for the pandemic as record numbers of patients died. According to a NPR report, nursing homes with quality problems pre-dating the pandemic were the most likely to be hit hard by the virus. For example, one study showed that as many as 70% of nursing homes failed to have effective infection control programs in place even before the pandemic began sweeping the nation. Quality and safety issues are not the only problems that senior residents face, but so are cases of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Nursing home abuse is the intentional abuse of nursing home residents by staff members or other residents. This abuse can be physical, mental, or sexual. Nursing home neglect is when a staff member exhibits a lack or care and compassion for the wellbeing of residents accompanied by the failure to provide necessities like supervision, food, water, and shelter. Even during a pandemic, skilled nursing facilities are still legally obligated to provide basic necessities and to observe a certain standard of care. If one of your loved ones was injured or became ill because of nursing home abuse or neglect and you want to learn about filing a claim, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
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.