Lawsuits have been filed against nursing homes that failed to control skyrocketing coronavirus infections and deaths.
84,000 Nursing Home Residents & Staff Have Died COVID-19
As of October 2020, approximately 84,000 nursing home residents, staff, and long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 nationwide, which is around 40% of the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the AARP.
UPDATE: 27 Veterans Die in 1-Month COVID-19 Outbreak at LaSalle Veterans Home
Illinois state officials are investigating a coronavirus outbreak at LaSalle Veterans Home in Illinois that infected nearly 200 residents and staff, including 27 veterans who died, during the month of November 2020.
Lawsuits Filed Against Pennsylvania Nursing Home Where 73 Residents & Staff Died in Outbreak
In October 2020, at least 15 families filed wrongful death lawsuits against Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, where a coronavirus outbreak infected more than 534 residents and staff, including 73 who died. The nursing home is under federal and state criminal investigation after failing to control the outbreak.
In July 2020, the family of a housekeeper who died of COVID-19 also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, where she was an employee.
Lawsuit Filed Against Montana Nursing Home Where 13 Residents Died
In October 2020, lawsuits were filed against Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation, a long-term care facility in Montana where 13 residents died of COVID-19. Health officials blamed the facility for failing to contain a coronavirus outbreak where 75% of residents were infected after the 1st case was reported on August 12.
15 Families File Lawsuit Against New Mexico Nursing Home
In September 2020, a lawsuit was filed by 15 families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 at the Life Care Center of Farmington, New Mexico. Nearly 50% of residents died in an outbreak of COVID-19. According to lawyers, staff was told not to wear masks because it “scared the patients” and in other cases, staff had to work with symptoms of COVID-19.
Maryland Fines 3 Nursing Homes for COVID-19 Violations
In August 2020, the Washington Post reported that officials in Maryland issued massive fines against 3 nursing homes for failing to isolate COVID-19 patients or control the spread of COVID-19:
- Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($275,000)
- Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($120,000)
- Kensington Healthcare Center ($294,000)
Another COVID-19 Death Lawsuit Filed Against Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility in Texas
Another COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility in Carthage, Texas. This time, it was filed by the family of an employee who died of COVID-19 on April 22. The lawsuit accuses Briarcliff of failing to provide employees with masks or any sort of personal protective equipment, which resulted in a deadly outbreak among staff and residents.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Florida Nursing Home
In July 2020, at least 2 lawsuits for wrongful death and 3 lawsuits for negligence were filed against Bishop’s Glen Retirement Center in Florida. The most recent lawsuit was filed on behalf of an 88 year-old woman who was hospitalized with COVID-19 since June 4. At least 6 residents have died of COVID-19, plus around 22 residents who tested positive and 14 positive staff members.
7 Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed Against Oregon Nursing Home Where 30 Residents Died
In June 2020, at least 7 wrongful death lawsuits were filed against Healthcare at Foster Creek, a nursing home in Portland, Oregon, after an outbreak of COVID-19 killed 30 residents and infected at least 119 others.
“Defendants downplayed the COVID-19 risk, lied about their safety practices, and failed to share crucial information about the dangerous conditions at Foster Creek and the spread of COVID-19.”
8 Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed Against Kansas Nursing Home Where 36 People Died
In May 2020, at least 8 wrongful death lawsuits were filed against Riverbend Post-Acute Rehabilitation in Kansas City, Kansas, where 36 people died of COVID-19. The lawsuits accuse Riverbend of failing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, under-staffing, and failing to notify families during the outbreak.
Not All Nursing Homes Have Had Deadly COVID-19 Outbreaks. What Did They Do Right?
Nursing homes that acted quickly and took the COVID-19 threat seriously have had far fewer illnesses and death, according to an investigation by Wired.
So, how did these nursing homes stop the pandemic in its tracks, when so many other facilities failed?
Here is one success story: The San Francisco Center for Jewish Living (SFCJL) has over 300 elderly residents — and none of them have tested positive for COVID-19. Why?
- Early in the pandemic, SFCJL immediately stocked up on Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face masks for staff and residents.
- Everyone who walked in the door was screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Educating staff and residents on how to prevent spreading the virus, like hand-washing and social distancing.
- Testing all staff and residents for COVID-19 every few weeks.
COVID-19 Death Lawsuit Filed for Nursing Home Employee in Texas
In May 2020, a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the mother of a 51-year old nursing home employee who died of coronavirus (COVID-19). The lawsuit was filed against West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Austin, Texas.
Veterans Home Hit With Deadliest COVID-19 Outbreak in Entire U.S.
At least 76 veterans have died in an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) that the Holyoke Soldiers Home, making it the deadliest outbreak in the enture U.S. as of April 29. More than 160 other residents and employees have also tested positive for the virus.
Nursing Homes Now Must Tell Families of COVID-19 Diagnosis Within 12 Hours
The federal agency overseeing nursing homes will now require the facilities to tell families of COVID19 cases within 12 hours and provide weekly updates. The facilities must also report cases to the government.
Coronavirus Outbreaks in Nursing Homes
Hundreds of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the U.S. have reported coronavirus outbreaks among residents, employees, and visitors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“Given their congregate nature and resident population served (e.g., older adults often with underlying chronic medical conditions), nursing home populations are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19.”
What is the Risk of Death?
The death rate from coronavirus is 10-27% for people over 85 years old, followed by 3-11% for those aged 65-84 years old, according to early data from the U.S. that was collected between February 12 and March 16, 2020.
How Many People Are At Risk?
There are approximately 1.3 million people who live in nursing homes, 800,000 people who live in assisted living facilities, 75,000 people in intermediate care facilities, and 3 million people who work in skilled nursing or residential care facilities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Daughter of Coronavirus Victim Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Nursing Home
In April 2020, the daughter of a woman who died of coronavirus at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The facility was an early hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with at least 129 infections and 37 deaths.
Who Filed the Lawsuit?
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Twilla J. Morin., a woman who died of suspected COVID-19 on March 4. Her daughter says she was never told that there were previous COVID-19 deaths at the facility. Furthermore, the day before her mother died of coronavirus, she said staff members told her that the doctor had not been on site for weeks.
WA Nursing Home Hit With $611,000 Fine for Coronavirus Failures
Federal regulators issued a $611,000 fine against the Life Care Center after an inspection found many problems that led to the outbreak, including:
- The nursing home failed to rapidly identify and quarantine sick patients as the number of COVID-19 respiratory infections spiraled out of control.
- The nursing home failed to notify the Washington State Department of Health about the growing number of respiratory infections.
- The nursing home failed to have a backup plan when their primary doctor fell ill.
5 Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed Against Kansas Rehabilitation Facility
In April 2020, five separate wrongful death lawsuits were filed against Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation in Kansas City, Kansas after an outbreak of coronavirus killed at least 28 people and infected more than 128 residents and employees. According to the lawsuit, an employee with COVID-19 showed up to work with a fever and a cough in March and worked without protective equipment.
Coronavirus Symptoms in Older Adults
The symptoms of a coronavirus infection in older adults can range from a mild illness to a severe infection. The most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Unusual COVID-19 Symptoms in Older Adults
Older people with COVID-19 may not show typical symptoms such as fever or coughing, according to the CDC. Unusual symptoms may include:
- New or worsening malaise (generally feeling unwell)
- New dizziness
Why is Coronavirus So Hard to Control in Nursing Homes?
Coronavirus outbreaks have spread extremely quickly through nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. There are many reasons why these outbreaks are so hard to control:
- Doctors, nurses and staff commonly work at multiple facilities
- Frequent interactions among patients and staff
- Population of older adults, many with underlying health problems
- Healthy residents living in close quarters with sick patients
- Staffing shortages and high turnover
- Infected staff and residents may not show symptoms
- Lack of testing capacity
- Failure to stock enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Shortages of life-saving medical equipment like ventilators
63% of U.S. Nursing Homes Cited for Infection-Control Failures
Nursing homes take in enormous amounts of federal money, but 63% of the nation’s nursing homes have been cited for infection-control failures since 2016. Inspections found basic errors like not hand-washing before moving onto the next patient, or failing to use masks, gloves, and gowns in the rooms of sick patients. Overall, around 3.8 million infections occur in nursing homes each year, killing nearly 388,000 residents.
The Tragedy of Coronavirus Outbreaks in Nursing Homes
Elderly people who are infected with coronavirus may have to be transferred to an isolation facility. They are typically unable to go outside or visit their loved ones. The tragedy is that most victims die alone, or suffer through a horrific near-death illness, with no one around except caregivers in full protective equipment.
Families & Govt. Paid Top $ For Care — So Why Weren’t Nursing Homes Ready?
Nursing homes take in an enormous amount of money. They are extremely expensive for families, as well as state and federal funds through Medicaid and Medicare. There is little transparency on how the money is spent, but even before the coronavirus pandemic, infection outbreaks were a common source of death.
Nationwide, more than 60% of nursing have been cited for failing to take steps to prevent infections — including basic steps like hand-washing or wearing gloves. Now, many of those same nursing homes are finding themselves under-prepared for coronavirus outbreaks.