Since the pandemic, one thing has become evident. Certain population areas are more vulnerable than others. It’s also challenging to keep track of some cases and deaths in particular population segments.
For instance, it’s tough to tell how many positive cases there are with certain homeless populations. That’s because the homeless move around a lot, and if they’re constantly moving from place to place, it’s difficult to tell which ones have died or contracted the coronavirus.
Nursing home and assisted living facility cases and deaths are also difficult to track. That’s not because the populations of these facilities are moving around, though. Intentional staff or lawmaker underreporting are more often the reasons.
This raises the question of who the law should hold responsible if someone in a nursing home or assisted living facility contracts Covid-19 and dies from it. We’ll talk about that in the following article.
Covid-19 And Nursing Homes
New York’s Governor Cuomo seemed to be handling the pandemic very well a few months ago. Then, revelations came to light that he had fudged the numbers regarding nursing home cases and deaths. He got defensive about that when reporters started grilling him on it, but then he became embroiled in a sexual assault and harassment scandal, and he had to shift to damage control in that area.
New York’s nursing home cases and deaths served as a wake-up call for many other states. Families who had relatives in these facilities suddenly became much more worried about them, and rightly so.
As for the facilities themselves, many of the administrators began talking about nursing home Covid-19 liability protections. They worried about a possible individual or class action lawsuits if their residents started dying. They had reason to worry since a sizable class action lawsuit can easily bankrupt a nursing home or entire nursing home chain if the court finds for the plaintiff.
Staff Must Take Basic Protective Measures
While nursing homes in some states seem to be handling Covid-19 better than others, one thing is undeniable. If these facilities want to avoid individual or class action lawsuits if a resident or many residents contract the coronavirus or even die from it, they need to have their staff conduct themselves accordingly.
That means staff members need to wear protective masks around the residents at all times. They must implement handwashing, hand sanitizing stations, and social distancing whenever possible.
Every staff member should also get the vaccine as soon as they can do so. Virtually all of them should be able to get it now since every state ought to consider them front-line healthcare workers.
They should allow their residents to go get the vaccine as well. Most nursing home residents are older adults, so they should be eligible for the vaccine with no issues. The nursing homes should also inform the families when their older relatives are getting the vaccine or if they refuse to do so for any reason.
What About Upcoming Lawsuits?
It’s likely that most nursing homes have handled the situation the right way, and they have implemented all of the common-sense pandemic-related activities and strategies that we mentioned. However, it’s also probable that some of them handled the situation poorly, and some residents might have contracted the coronavirus or even died from it because of staff negligence.
Anywhere that happened, those particular staff members and nursing homes, along with the administrators who run them, will have court appearances coming up. Depending on how negligent they were and how egregious their conduct was, we could see some nursing homes shutting down over the months and years to come.
If the staff and admins acted recklessly and callously enough, then they deserve to lose their jobs, and the courts should shut down those facilities. That’s because many of the older residents there were helpless and enfeebled. Probably there were more than a few that didn’t even know about the pandemic because they had diminished mental capacity.
Some families have pulled their older relatives out of nursing homes and taken them into their houses during the pandemic because they were worried about the conditions there. Those who allowed them to stay, though, obviously did so because they thought the staff and administration would care for their loved ones.
If it turns out they didn’t do so, then the lawsuits that are coming now are entirely justified, and it will be for the better when court decisions shut down any improperly-run facilities.