Although information regarding Covid-19, better known as coronavirus, is seemingly changing by the day, we know that nursing homes are extremely vulnerable during this time and the number of nursing homes identified as coronavirus clusters has grown exponentially over the last few weeks.
In light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) has implemented a preparedness checklist for nursing homes and other resident facilities.
Most notably, CDC recommends that facilities, if they haven’t already, do the following:
1) Restrict any visitors from entering the facility, except for certain compassionate care situations such as end of life situations;
2) Aggressively identify and monitor employees, staff and residents for any symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath;
3) Quickly isolating and aggressively treating a resident(s) who experience any symptoms from coming into contact with any other residents;
4) Allow employees who are experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath to take extended sick leave to accommodate quarantine guidelines; and
5) Implement social distancing between residents and staff as much as possible.
However, nursing homes should not be afraid to expand these protocols and take more aggressive measures to protect both residents and staff.
For example, Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center (“Brighton”), a nursing home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after suffering at least 13 deaths within the facility initiated a general policy whereby it assumed that all their staff members and residents were positive for Coronavirus.
In addition, all staff are required to wear N95 masks and other protective equipment to keep themselves and their vulnerable residents safe. Brighton released a statement noting:
“By presuming every staff member and resident may be positive and treating symptoms, not test results, we are doing what we believe every facility and every person in the nation should do. We are not saying that every person in our facility (has Coronavirus). We believe there is an unidentifiable percentage of people who are inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to others because they do not have symptoms and/or tested negative on a test, which may be a false negative or no longer accurate by the time results are communicated. We join with an increasing number of healthcare professionals who are urging all Americans to presume you are positive and to take action to prevent the virus you may carry from spreading to others. We also ask you to presume that your seemingly healthy neighbors are positive as well. We are asking the same from each and every member of our staff and asking them to act as if each of them and each resident may be positive so that we slow the spread.”
Unfortunately, Brighton learned the hard way that implementing very strict measures, in addition to the CDC guidelines, to prevent the spread of coronavirus is a necessity. Due to the statistical evidence present, we know that coronavirus is much more lethal to the elderly.
Therefore, nursing homes in Louisiana should always be exercising the utmost caution even going beyond the CDC guidelines. In short, nursing home facilities that only implement CDC guidelines may not be doing enough to fully protect their residents and staff, and instead, could be negligently contributing to the spread of the virus to its residents.
If you are not satisfied with the way your loved one’s nursing home or long-care facility is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, contact Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to address the issue.
In addition, 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 are concerned with the response a nursing home, assisted living, or residential facility is taking to the coronavirus.