We are all well aware by now of the unprecedented risks Covid-19 (“coronavirus”) presents to nursing home residents due to their age and serious underlying medical conditions. One of the issues that has become problematic for many residents is the issue of where to transfer residents if they are diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Many families are profoundly concerned about how the transfer of residents infected by coronavirus between facilities will be done safely.
Interestingly, there are two different issues to consider. First, the transfer of patients stricken with coronavirus back to a nursing home facility after a hospital stay. Second, the transfer of a resident within a nursing home facility if that resident tests positive for coronavirus.
Is it even allowed to transfer patients with coronavirus to a nursing home facility?
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) is deferring to states’ decisions on admission of these patients. Some states have mandated that facilities accept these patients. Other states have barred facilities from admitting them.
Many states, like Louisiana, have issued no guidance at all; that coupled with the absence of federal regulation essentially means that decisions about admission of patients with coronavirus are being made at the facility level.
Since the guidance at this point is a bit unclear, you have a right to know how your loved one’s facility is accepting these patients, and if so, what they are doing to keep all residents safe.
If your loved one has tested positive and needs to move from the hospital to a nursing home, they also have a right to high-quality care. If your facility does not have a formal policy, request that they create one as soon as possible, and follow up until they do.
My loved one resides in a nursing home and contracted the coronavirus; can the facility move them, and will they notify me?
The CMS waived some portions of transfer regulations, but only in three situations:
- Transferring residents with COVID-19 or respiratory infection symptoms to a facility dedicated to care of such residents;
- Transferring residents without diagnosis or symptoms to a facility dedicated to care of such residents; or
- Transferring residents without symptoms of a respiratory infection to another facility for 14-day observation.
A nursing home can transfer a resident within a facility with no notice if the sole purpose is to separate a resident with coronavirus from a resident without coronavirus. 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 more impactful is that the CMS has waived patients’ right to notice prior to a transfer to another facility. Patients who have the coronavirus may be transferred to a facility dedicated to caring for those patients. Patients who do not have the virus may be transferred to a facility where they are housing coronavirus free patients to decrease the chances they will be exposed to the virus.
Finally, residents who may have been exposed but are showing no symptoms may be transferred to a facility for observation. All three of these transfer scenarios can happen without notifying the patient or family first.
It is imperative to stay in contact with your loved one’s nursing home facility.
With transfers allowed without advance notice, it is imperative to stay in contact with your loved one and your loved one’s facility. When a resident is transferred from a nursing home, the change can create chaos in the life of a vulnerable individual and those who remain dependent on others for their daily care.
The attorneys at Macaluso Law Firm, LLC have years of experience assisting and helping residents and their families in protecting their rights. Contact them today to schedule a completely free consultation if you or someone you know is concerned with the response a nursing home, assisted living, or residential facility is taking to the coronavirus.