The COVID-19 virus pandemic has taken a great toll on nursing homes. Georgia is no exception. Data.CMS.gov, a federal government website managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports the state, for the week ending July 26, had recorded 5,737 cases and 1,128 deaths at nursing homes. The state’s rate of 202.5 cases and 39.6 deaths per 1,000 nursing home residents ranked 11th and 17th in the country, respectively.
Nursing homes across the nation failed their residents by not taking proper precautions beforehand and by not responding to the pandemic in a responsible manner that would have protected their elderly populations, according to a report by ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that specializes in investigating abuses of power.
“It’s just a river of grief, and it could have been prevented,” Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, told ProPublica.
What went wrong?
According to ProPublica, the nursing home industry has a history of opposing regulatory efforts, such as in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the swine flu outbreak of 2009. In a more recent example, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) wrote to newly elected President Donald Trump on Dec. 15, 2016, to object to “extremely burdensome” regulations. Among those cited was a rule calling for nursing homes to develop plans for outbreaks of new infectious diseases.
Facilities had been told to address their response during a crisis. Would they shelter in place or evacuate? How would they provide residents with food, water and medicine? They also were instructed to provide staff with training. Despite the AHCA letter, the Trump administration said nursing homes should have plans for contagious disease outbreaks.
Inspections have revealed, however, that nursing homes didn't follow the 2016 rules. Between November 2017 and March 2020, regulators cited over 24,000 violations at 6,599 facilities, or about 43 percent of the country’s nursing homes.
What You Can Do Right
Maybe a loved one is sick with COVID-19 in a nursing home. Or, tragically, you may have lost a family member to the coronavirus. Either way, you're dealing with strong emotions. You may even feel guilty, thinking you could have done more to protect your loved one. As the ProPublica investigation shows, many nursing home operators have little interest in paying attention to government regulations. They probably have less interest in paying attention to you. They will hide behind their bureaucracy and their lawyers, unwilling to admit any fault.
Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer George S. Johnson, of The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC, knows about the cruelties too often inflicted by nursing home operators who fail to properly care for loved ones. They have broken a medical and professional trust that leaves physical, emotional and psychological scars. Attorney Johnson will pursue justice and fair financial compensation for you and your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.