The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has stopped the economy in the United States. Citizens are getting more scared and worried by the day. Constant news headlines talk about businesses closing and millions of people losing their jobs. Experts agree everyone needs to take part to stop the Coronavirus from spreading. If not controlled, the rapid spread of Coronavirus could cause overcrowding in hospitals.
Medical experts state lockdowns are necessary to help suppress the number of people infected with Coronavirus. This will help mitigate the damage to those infected. Every aspect of our lives are being affected, as businesses are being forced to shut down and people lose their jobs. Coronavirus will have far reaching implications as we move forward. Our Coronavirus injury lawyers are well versed on the issues and ready to help those affected by COVID-19. Our injury attorneys are providing free consultations to those suffering from Coronavirus.
Common Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms
Medical experts state typical symptoms of Coronavirus include breathing issues, cough, body ache, and fever. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, kidney issues, and even death.
High Risk Individuals
The elderly population, patients currently undergoing cancer therapy and treatment (regardless of age), patients with autoimmune disorders (regardless of age), and patients with underlying heart, lung or kidney disorders, are all at increased risk of infection due to a weakened immune system. This makes it more difficult to fight off viruses like COVID-19. Because of this high risk, it’s crucial that businesses caring for the elderly, and other vulnerable population, provide certain protections and are vigilant in recognizing and intervening on behalf of patients with symptoms consistent with Coronavirus.
Nursing Homes & Elderly Care Facilities
Nursing homes and elder care facilities need to be on high alert due to the advanced ages and underlying medical conditions of their residents. These facilities owe residents a duty to protect them from exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to seek necessary medical and hospital care and treatment when residents begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of an infection. When this duty is not met, COVID-19 outbreaks in the facility can occur. Coronavirus infections and outbreaks are spreading in nursing homes and elderly care facilities across the country. Weakened immune systems and close proximity to other residents make elderly care facilities a hot spot for the spread of Coronavirus. In addition, many elderly residents suffer from pre-existing health problems.
Nursing homes and elderly care facilities can’t turn a blind eye to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To do so, would be a failure of their duty to protect residents.
Plans For Handling Pandemics (Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Nursing Homes & Elderly Care Facilities
Nursing homes and elderly care facilities should have a plan for handling Coronavirus. It’s the responsibility of an elderly care facility to protect its residents. An elderly care facility should have a pandemic plan it is following. If a nursing home or elderly care facility has no plan, or fails to ensure that employee care givers fail to follow the plan, residents lives are put at risk. Elder care facilities and nursing homes should be stringently following and adhering to government protocols.
American Health Care Association (AHCA) & National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) Guidance for Nursing Homes and Elderly Care Facilities
As of March 9, 2020, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) along with the National Center For Assisted Living (NCAL) issued guidance for preventing Coronavirus (COVID-19) in nursing homes, elderly care facilities, and assisted living communities. The guidance is in its disaster planning document titled, Taking Reasonable Efforts to Prevent COVID-19 From Entering Your Assisted Living Community. You can find this document at: https://www.ahcancal.org/facility_operations/disaster_planning/Documents/AL-Guidance-Preventing-COVID19.pdf.
Prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) From Entering the Facility
In its disaster planning document, the NCAL/AHCA states the top priority (related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) for assisted living communities, nursing homes and elderly care facilities, is to prevent the virus from entering the facility. The plan states there is a high fatality rate in elderly folks over the age 80 and it further indicates preliminary data is showing a fatality rate of 15% or greater in folks 80 and over.
Early Action to Reduce the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Early action by nursing homes and elderly care facilities can help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. Waiting until the virus spreads throughout the facility is too late.
To prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) from getting into a nursing home or assisted living facility, the AHCA/NCAL plan recommends these actions:
- Limit entry to nursing homes and elderly care facilities only to individuals who need entry;
- Restrict activities and visitors with potential for exposure;
- Restrict individuals with respiratory symptoms;
- Restrict individuals potentially exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19);
- Require all staff at nursing homes and elderly care facilities to wash their hands when entering the building;
- Encourage everyone visiting nursing homes and elderly care facilities to wash their hands; and
- Set up processes for residents of nursing homes and elderly care facilities to communicate remotely with others.
The AHCA/NCAL further indicates, due to the diverse nature of assisted living, each community must focus on steps the facility can enact now to mitigate Coronavirus (COVID-19), considering state regulations, laws, and guidance.
Best Practices For Assisted Care Facilities Reported by AHCA/NCAL
The AHCA/NCAL indicate best practices for assisted care facilities to implement and follow include:
- Posting signage in nursing homes and assisted care facilities that notify people entering the building about the risks associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the recommended precautions each person should take;
- Notify all residents, family members and other loved ones of the risks and encourage residents to strongly encourage their family members and friends to not visit at this time;
- Establish specific visiting hours when staff is available to monitor the entrance;
- Consider having one entrance to the facility;
- Require a visitor sign in policy; and
- Conduct screening for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The AHCA/NCAL indicate the following should not be allowed to enter assisted care facilities:
- Anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness;
- Anyone who has traveled in in the past 14 days to somewhere a Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been confirmed;
- Anyone who traveled internationally within the last 14 days to an area where Coronavirus (COVID19) cases have been confirmed; and
- Anyone who has worked in another health care setting with confirmed COVID-19 cases (this may change as COVID-19 spreads in the community), not including workers needed to keep the facility running and to meet resident needs.
Elder care facilities, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities must protect their resident and staff from COVID-19. Reports from across the country about Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading through elder care facilities, is notice to all other facilities nationwide. Facilities need to be on extreme alert and they must understand and implement the rules, processes, and procedures as the government issues them. Turning a blind eye and hoping this will blow over, is not the approach for elder care facilities to take.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Injury Claims Against Nursing Homes, Elderly Care Facilities, & Assisted Care Facilities
Elder care facilities, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities must protect residents and a duty to not spread Coronavirus (COVID-19). If a facility knows of a resident, a staff member, or a visitor is infected with Coronavirus, or shows symptoms of the Coronavirus, the facility must follow the rules and address the issue immediately. If a facility ignores the rules and others become infected, the facility may be liable for the personal injuries caused by the facility not following the rules.
If an elder care facility, nursing home, or assisted care facility knew or should have known someone in the facility has Coronavirus, and the facility ignores the issue, and another resident gets Coronavirus (COVID-19), the facility may be liable for a personal injury damages for ignoring the situation that allowed the virus to spread.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wrongful Death Claims Against Nursing Homes, Elderly Care Facilities, & Assisted Care Facilities
Elder care facilities, nursing homes, and assisted care facilities are hot spots for the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) because of how close together the residents are. As residents get infected, the virus will likely spread if facilities don’t have a plan in place. As the virus spreads through unprepared facilities, deaths are likely to result.
Wrongful death claims and lawsuits will be filed against the negligent facilities that weren’t prepared or didn’t follow the plan. Claims will be made against facilities for failing to take proper precautions to keep elderly residents safe. Families often place elderly family members in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep them safe. When facilities fail to take proper precautions to keep residents safe, and a resident dies, a wrongful death lawsuit by the family will likely be the result. A wrongful death lawsuit will likely have many allegations that support a claim for negligence and possibly even claims against the facility for intentionally disregarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.