Problems With Las Vegas Nursing Homes During COVID-19
During these times of coronavirus, there are few other institutions that have been hit as hard as nursing homes. It can be easy to assume it’s because the population there is already at risk: according to the CDC, elderly patients and those with underlying conditions are the most pre-disposed to severe COVID-19 infections in Nevada.
But while it’s true that nursing home populations are high-risk, but it also appears that these assisted living facilities are not doing enough to prevent the spread of disease, even if they are obligated under the law to protect their patients. As of 2020, more than 80% of nursing homes in Nevada were cited for violations related to the prevention of infectious disease, according to a Las Vegas Review Journal article.
These violations included failing to wash hands between each patient visitation and failing to change personal protective equipment (PPE).
The article goes on to state that one-third of Nevada’s nursing homes are rated “below average” or “much below average” according to Medicare’s federal standards. Even before the coronavirus crisis, many nursing home lawsuits have come about from these deficiencies.
This is a big problem for Nevada, where coronavirus cases are still on the rise in general, and where many of our COVID-19 cases and related deaths are linked to nursing homes. Elderly patients rely on these standards of care to be protected against coronavirus transmission.
This information has come to public light as the coronavirus crisis spreads through senior care facilities in the valley in beyond. As of June 2020, nursing homes accounted for more than 900 COVID-19 cases across Nevada, of which nearly a hundred residents have already died.
There are now 4 nursing homes designated by the government as being high risk for coronavirus.
It is part of the responsibility of these nursing homes to prevent the spread of any infectious disease, including coronavirus, but large outbreaks in certain facilities shows that Nevada’s nursing homes need work at the very least — and are presently lethal to their patients in many cases.
Nevada Nursing Home Case 1:
As of May 2020, more than 70 people at a certain facility in Las Vegas had contracted coronavirus, including 38 elderly residents, who are considered to be high risk for COVID-19 complications. Many of the nursing home’s patients were hospitalized, of which 7 have passed away from complications due to the coronavirus.
According to government reports, the nursing home did not isolate patients who were already known to have contracted coronavirus, and patients who had tested positive were placed in rooms with those who had not yet contracted the disease. The staff were also not properly trained in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the necessary N95 masks.
Some of the residents’ loved ones did not find out about the COVID-19 outbreak at the nursing home until it was broadcast to them on the news.
According to a Las Vegas Review Journal article, the facility’s outbreak may be related to a single patient who exhibited symptoms in early April. Nursing home staff failed to take notice of a patient with symptoms of the coronavirus, which began as coughing and a low grade fever. At that time the facility had already seen two hospitalizations that were reported to the government, however caregivers did not attend to the patient with the new symptoms.
Their symptoms worsened under the facility’s care. Unfortunately, the victim died in early April.
Before the victim was hospitalized their roommate was infected as well, according to a follow-up report from the state government. Social distancing measures and proper use of PPE were not observed, which led to the outbreak spreading quickly through the patients and residents. Some staff members were reported to not even have been aware of violating these measures.
It is unknown what initially caused the outbreak, but the result is clear: takes just a few small moments of negligence on the part of a caregiver or the nursing home management for COVID-19 to spread through a facility.
Nevada Nursing Home Case 2:
Even worse is another nursing home in Clark County, Las Vegas with almost 150 infections at the facility. So far, 28 patients have passed away from coronavirus-related cases. It is currently the site of the highest number of facility-related cases in the Nevada.
According to a Fox5Vegas article, the facility failed to report the cases and deaths in a timely manner to government authorities, violating the reporting guidelines set by the state. This is consistent with what has been observed in other states across the nation, where the numbers have been often inaccurate due to inconsistent reporting from these nursing home facilities and assisted care homes.
Family members who were interviewed stated that their loved ones who were residing at the facility were not informed about the outbreak or the fatal cases. At present, the facility is reported to be isolating the remaining patients but for many of the families involved in the outbreak, actions in retrospect are too little too late for the wrongful death of their loved one.
If you have a loved one residing at a senior care, nursing home, or assisted living facility, be proactive if possible in getting information and updates about your loved one’s care. As we have seen in many of these cases, information has not been forthright from many facilities and many caregivers have failed to provide adequate care to the point of negligence. Again, these nursing homes are legally obligated to provide protection and adequate care, and violations thereof can be a form of nursing home neglect & abuse.
Remember that more than 80% of nursing homes have logged a violation of federal standards, so that out of Nevada’s 66 nursing homes, 55 have a history of negligent treatment. The government calls these “homes with infectious-related deficiencies”. Some of them have violations that are so severe that they are flagged as “special focus facilities”, determined by the federal government as having a history of serious issues. Many others are on the verge of earning this red flag as well.
While some nursing homes definitely do meet the standards and go above and beyond to treat our loved ones, unfortunately many of them do not meet the cut, even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Should you suspect that a loved one has contracted coronavirus at their facility, seek legal advice immediately. Everyone has a legal right to seek legal counsel and even have attorney present when meeting with these nursing home facilities to gather information.