Over the past several months, there has been a great amount of media coverage which shed light on the horrific events occurring in nursing homes related to COVID-19. As trial attorneys who handle nursing home abuse cases on a daily basis, the industry’s lackluster response to this epidemic was not surprising. Too many facilities, even in the face of this worldwide pandemic, still put their profits before the safety of their residents. Now that we are months into this disaster, how bad is the present state of the industry? It is even worse than most people think.
According to a recent article in Yahoo News, at least 54,000 residents and staff at elder care facilities have died of COVID-19 in this country. To put this into perspective, in excess of 75% of this country’s coronavirus deaths were over the age of 65. In fact, the United States has more nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 than, with the exception of Brazil, any other country in the world has for all of their residents regardless of their age. Nursing home residents in our country make up less than 1% of our country’s population, but account for in excess of 40% of the COVID-19 deaths.
Due to their age and pre-existing co-morbidities, nursing home residents are at high risk to succumbing to the virus if exposed. Despite these facts, many facilities failed to put proper precautions in place before the virus hit their facility. Staff were allowed to enter the building without any precautions, masks were not used, and social distancing policies were ignored. Shockingly, many facilities kept COVID-19 positive residents in their buildings until they passed, allowing the virus to run rampant while the families of the loved ones were left in the dark. As noted by the author of the Yahoo News article, some facilities have been associated with more than 70 deaths.
It is clearly time for the nursing home industry to change its business model to put human life before profits. As nursing home abuse attorneys, we will continue to fight for the residents and their families. We hope that the news coverage will open the eyes of the general public and lead to profound changes in how we care for the elderly in this country.
This blog was written by Firm Partner Joe Landy.