In September 2020, the nursing home staff at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Massachusetts were indicted on criminal charges in what the Attorney General described as the first criminal case against nursing home operators in connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventy-six veterans at the hospital died as a result of the outbreak. The nursing home operators were indicted on charges of being the caretakers who wantonly or recklessly commit or permit bodily injury to an elder or disabled individual. The nursing home is a state-run, fully accredited center that offers 247 long-term nursing beds and a 24-hour care center. Due to staffing shortages, the facility consolidated two dementia units into one, which led to confirmed COVID-19 patients being placed on the same unit as asymptomatic residents. The facility also placed residents who were thought to be asymptomatic on nine beds in the dining room, even though some of the residents were displaying COVID-19 symptoms. These beds were allegedly not sufficiently distanced and allowed residents to socialize despite their COVID-19 status.
These charges suggest the focus on accountability for COVID-19 exposure by both the federal and state government. The Attorney General has also begun to scrutinize other long-term facility cases. The Attorney General has also stated that it is a good idea for long term care facilities to review their policies and procedures in regards to the pandemic. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s understandable to be concerned about COVID-19. As a result, this article reviews some critical steps that you should follow in such a situation.
# 1 – What To Do If A Loved One Is In A Facility With No COVID-19 Cases
In this situation, your focus is on keeping the virus out of your loved one’s living space. Only staff members should be interacting with your loved one. Furthermore, staff should wear adequate protection when interacting with your loved one. Residents should also practice adequate social distancing.
# 2 – If a Love One Residents in A Facility with COVID-19 Cases
After a facility has a confirmed COVID-19 case, adequate care should be taken to isolate patients. These facilities should also adequately separate COVID-19 patients and those who do not have the virus. Additionally, it is still important if your loved one resides in such a facility to minimize who they are in contact with and to make sure they always wear the appropriate protective gear.
# 3 – Ask the Right Questions
One of the best ways to make sure that your loved one resides in the safest situation possible is to ask the right question of the facility operators. For example, some questions you should ask include whether workers are screened each day for COVID-19, whether the facility has adequate protective gear for workers, and what protocol the facility follows if someone is confirmed to have COVID-19.
Speak with an Elder Law Attorney Today
If your loved one has been diagnosed with COVID-19 as a result of negligence or other mistakes made by a nursing home or its workers, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.