September 24, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged, many families across the country were concerned with the health of their elderly loved ones. After all, many early reports had shown that our elderly population and those with underlying health issues were most at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus. That’s why learning that residents of long-term care facilities – despite making up only one percent of our population – accounted for more than 40 percent of all covid-related deaths is so devastating. Even worse, is that despite best efforts from the Trump Administration and their claim of “resounding vindication,” there is still much that has to be done to protect these vulnerable residents.

The COVID Tracking Project

According to the COVID Tracking Project, which is a volunteer organization that was launched by The Atlantic that collects and publishes important data to help understand the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States, there have been 77,000 long-term care facility-related deaths, including both residents and staff. Vice President Mike Pence met with members of the COVID Tracking Project to discuss the findings and called them “a significant contribution to our ongoing effort to ensure the health and well-being of our seniors in nursing homes and long-term care facilities around the country.”

The COVID Tracking Project collects data from both testing and patient outcomes from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. In April of this year, they launched a new initiative called the COVID Racial Data Tracker that, through partnership with the Center for Antiracist Research, collects, analyzes and publishes data to learn more about the true nature of the outbreak in vulnerable communities.

In terms of what’s been done, Terry Fulmer, a commission member and the president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, argued that efforts have not gone far enough to improve care for the elderly population. She is quoted as saying, “we need to get the real data that will tell us where we’re still lacking testing, (protective equipment), and appropriate staffing.” As many states move into the autumn months and cooler weather, Fulmer stated, “we really need to watch the autumn flu season and really keep an close eye on any uptick with the virus.” She continued, “we don’t have a national policy that we are following so we can ensure we have quality across our entire nation, so we are looking for progress there.”

Recommendations from the Report

The report, which was 186 pages long, offered up the following recommendations. These include:

  • Providing more assistance and clearer guidance on how to manage infection control, including moving infected residents to a different area within the facility to help control the outbreak.
  • Establishing a national testing strategy that helps combat issues with ongoing staff training and supplies.
  • Safely resuming family visits since the lockdowns have had an adverse effect on residents. The Trump Administration has stated that it has provided guidance on how to safely resume family visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country as many of these facilities begin to open up across the country.
  • Making a guarantee to these facilities to provide PPE supplies to help prevent shortages of these products. The commission has called on the government to provide a guaranteed supply of PPE for three months. The Trump Administration has stated that they have provided money for PPE back in August and began shipping N95 masks to those facilities that reported shortages.

According to David Grabowski, a commission member and Harvard professor, the research from the organization found that the virus gets into the facilities from members of the surrounding communities and employees and family members who unknowingly have the virus and spread it to the residents. Further findings from the commission concluded that the pandemic has exposed flaws in the nation’s oversight of nursing homes, which divides responsibilities among federal, state and local authorities.

Tamara Konetzka, who is a professor with the University of Chicago and a fellow expert on long-term care, reviewed the report and said that the recommendations “follow the growing consensus over the past six months about what needs to be done to stem the cases and deaths in nursing homes.” She took aim with the Trump Administration’s claims that it has met the need; she said, “I would classify the CMS actions to date as a move in the right direction and better late than never. But, as we get close to 80,000 nursing home deaths and counting, it’s difficult to think of the federal response as unprecedented and successful.”

Contact a Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Nursing Home Case in Pennsylvania

Did your loved one sustain serious injuries due to nursing home abuse or neglect in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients injured because of nursing home abuse and neglect in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call (412) 564-4770 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15212.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.