The first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States was in January 2020. Since then, the number of cases has continued to increase throughout the country. A majority of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 recover without any issues. Unfortunately, older adults are more susceptible to complications and deaths due to compromised immune systems and underlying medical conditions.
In California alone, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 519,427 positive cases of COVID-19. There is also a total of 9,501 fatalities in the state related to the disease. Those numbers are staggering, and it seems to be getting worse. Although regulations require specific procedures when dealing with infectious diseases, nursing homes aren’t always educating their staff or implementing them. Additionally, some facilities don’t have the necessary supplies to protect their staff members and residents from exposure.
The Problem With Quality of Care
Over 40% of COVID-19 deaths in California are nursing home residents. Unfortunately, the high fatality rate is often due to inexperienced staff members and a lack of procedures to prevent the spread of infection. Despite efforts to keep families out of the facilities and quarantine sick patients from the rest, new cases are developing daily.
An analysis of California’s DPH data showed that 73 of the 1,224 nursing homes in the state had at least ten COVID-19 fatalities between January and June 2020. Although a seemingly small number, those 73 nursing homes account for over 55% of the state’s total nursing home fatalities.
While routine inspections determine the safety and health of nursing home residents and staff, recent investigations aren’t as in-depth or thorough. DPH still sends investigators to the facilities, but they don’t spend as much time talking to the staff members and residents and educating them on quality of care.
Instead, investigators discuss personal protective equipment, the best method for washing hands, and how to isolate residents that test positive for COVID-19. They don’t necessarily have the time to cite violations or enforce state regulations.
Family Members Can’t Advocate for Their Loved Ones
With much of the country still on lockdown and facilities like nursing homes restricting access from outside visitors, it’s next to impossible to protect our loved ones. If you have a family member in a nursing home, you’re normally allowed to visit them as much as you’re able to. You can check in on their health and make sure the staff treats them well. But during these difficult times, you can’t visit them. You’re unable to look for signs of neglect and can’t advocate for them if you don’t know what’s going on at the facility.
That is a problem many family members of nursing home residents are facing. You also worry about the long-term impact of isolation. No matter what age you are, you need human interaction. We’re not meant to be alone. We need our families and friends to feel fulfilled. If elderly nursing home residents are in isolation for weeks or months on end, they could suffer significant psychological problems. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are common when someone remains isolated for an extended period.
Fatalities by the Numbers
Statistical data shows that adults 65 years of age and older are at the highest risk of death from COVID-19. Approximately 80% of deaths are from this age group, and around 49% of those are accounted for by nursing home patients.
In California alone, the number of deaths within 24 hours broke previous records set by the state. Data shows that most COVID-19 cases at nursing homes are in a small area of Los Angeles. At Redwood Springs Healthcare Center, over 200 people tested positive for COVID-19, and a staggering 29 people died. That’s an outrageous number considering there are cities throughout the country that haven’t reached that number of fatalities yet.
As of May 2020, Elmcroft in La Mesa held the second-highest COVID-19 death rate of nursing home residents throughout California. In Sonoma County, 81% of nursing home fatalities were due to COVID-19 related complications. The nursing home resident death toll throughout the entire state reached 2,626. Staff members accounted for some deaths, but most were residents of those facilities.
Even if nursing home staff follows the proper protocol, it seems it’s impossible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While residents are isolated and can’t see their friends or families, nurses and workers within the facility get to go home every day. They could easily get exposed to the virus and spread it to someone in the nursing home, whether to another staff member or resident.
Although personal protective equipment can mitigate risks, facilities are running low or ran out entirely. Without gloves, gowns, and masks, it’s difficult to provide patients with adequate care while protecting their health.
Contact Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers Today
If your loved one was severely ill or died as a result of contracting COVID-19 in a nursing home, you should contact the attorneys at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers immediately. We understand the devastation of a situation like this and want to help you get through it. When you hire us, we’ll use our experience, resources, and knowledge to prove the nursing home was negligent and hold them accountable for your loved one’s suffering.
We offer a free case review for individuals who want to speak with an attorney at no risk. We’ll be happy to meet with you or talk over the phone about your case and the legal options available. If you decide to retain our services, you won’t have to pay us upfront. We work on contingency, which means we don’t collect a fee unless we recover compensation. If we don’t win your case, you won’t owe us any money.
To learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, call us at (888) 233-5020 today. We’ll seek justice for your loved one and fight for the compensation they deserve.