The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the COVID-19 virus to be a worldwide pandemic. In the United States, schools, restaurants, and all live sporting events have shut down. Although the Coronavirus can negatively impact the health of anyone, it is an especially dangerous strain that represents the biggest threat to people living in nursing homes. Nearly 75% of facilities have received a citation for making infection control errors.
A vast majority of nursing home facilities do not have the equipment to prevent the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. Far too many residents of nursing homes falsely believe the facilities are dedicated to creating sterile and, thus, healthy living environments for seniors. Because of this line of thought, some residents of nursing homes fall victim to careless workers that do not take proper precautions when it comes to limiting the spread of the Coronavirus.
The time is now to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at American nursing homes.
Why are Nursing Homes Considered Dangerous Settings?
Certain nursing home conditions make the facilities highly vulnerable to the spread of contagion, such as COVID-19. Improper sanitizing of surfaces can lead to the virus developing at a nursing home. Frequent contact with facility workers can also speed the transmission of the Coronavirus. Remember that a worker does not have to demonstrate symptoms of the virus. He or she can unknowingly carry it and infect an unsuspecting resident of a nursing home.
Residents of nursing homes are at high risk for contracting COVID-19. This is because of compromised immune systems, as well as any number of other medical conditions. Residents that experience respiratory distress symptoms are particularly vulnerable to contracting the Coronavirus. Add to that understaffed facilities and a lack of diagnostic equipment, and you have the ideal conditions for the virus to grow and thrive.
Not a First Time Problem
The scourge called COVID-19 is not the first-time nursing homes have become the focal point for preventing the spread of an infectious disease. With around three-quarters of nursing homes failing to comply with basic infection prevention standards, more than 75% of registered facilities received at least one citation from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. The agency recently announced that to inhibit the spread of the Coronavirus, it planned on conducting nursing home inspections that focus solely on COVID-19.
The United States Outbreak Started at a Washington State Nursing Home
In the city of Kirkland, Washington COVID-19 has infected the Life Care Center nursing home, with the facility experiencing at least 13 patient deaths and more than 50 residents dealing with the symptoms of the Coronavirus infection. Officials in several federal health departments believe Life Care Center is the epicenter where the virus began its assault on American citizens. Health officials also believe the outbreak was the first one of its kind in a nursing home facility. Although the facility received a five-star rating from federal regulators, the nursing home has received numerous complaints concerning its lack of compliance with anti-infection procedures.
One inspection detailed the account of a daughter who, during one visit to the facility, found her mother’s open wound on her heel touching the floor. This discovery was made with several workers passing by in the same room. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak at Life Care Center, workers have taken measures to tighten up the facility’s procedures for washing hands and changing out gloves.
Prevalent Risk Factors for Nursing Homes
Since 2017 9,372 nursing homes operating in the United States violated at least one infection prevention protocol. Common infection prevention protocol violations included failure to wash hands properly and not to change gloves after meeting with a patient. The handwashing issue is especially appalling because it requires just 20 seconds of intensive washing under hot water. Of the 9,372 nursing homes that operated using lax health standards, a vast majority of the facilities did not have enough caregivers on staff.
Four out of every ten nursing homes in America that received five-star ratings violated at least one nursing infection prevention protocol. Life Care Center had a five-star rating before the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. However, it should be noted that the lowest-rated facilities typically violated the most infection prevention protocols. With the current pandemic spreading across the United States, caregivers need to be much more vigilant when it comes to interacting with patients.
The bottom line is that although the spread of the Coronavirus appears to affect every age demographic, it is the elderly that are more most vulnerable to contracting a severe case of the virus. Seniors, by far, run a higher risk of dying from contracting COVID-19.
Controlling COVID-19 Requires Time and Money
You can also add superior planning to time and money. If there is one lesson we have learned since the spread of the Coronavirus made international headlines, it is that the United States is woefully prepared to handle a pandemic of such a large proportion. We need thousands of more respirators, as well as other vital medical gear and equipment that healthcare professionals use to treat patients, as well as protect themselves from the potentially deadly virus. We cannot afford to construct makeshift masks to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.
We also need to train caregivers working at nursing homes on how to handle patient care correctly to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Training takes both time and money, but now we understand that we need to do whatever it takes to stop the spread of this virus and be prepared for the next inevitable outbreak that can come later this year or several years down the road.
When Should You Contact a Nursing Abuse Attorney?
When you entrusted the care for an elderly family member with a highly rated nursing home, you expected the care to be top-notch. The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us the glaring mistakes made by far too many health care workers when it comes to preventing the spread of an infectious disease. You should get in touch with an Illinois licensed nursing home law firm such as Healy Scanlon, as soon as you learn about any abuse that occurred at a facility. You can reach our law firm by calling locally at (312) 977-0100 or through our toll-free line at (800) 922-4500. You can also submit the short Contact Form.