The holidays are typically the busiest time of the year for nursing homes.
Traditionally, even poorly run facilities attempted to make their best effort at the holidays, if for no other reason than that they knew a maximum number visitors would be arriving to visit with elderly friends and loved ones.
Unfortunately, COVID has impacted nursing home and assisted-living residents more than any other demographic. By most estimates, a staggering 40 percent of fatal coronavirus cases have victimized either nursing home residents or staff members.
Frontline reported 40 percent of the state’s 19,000 deaths have occurred in nursing facilities. The Naples Daily News reported residents are being allowed to leave to spend the holidays with family members, but many worry that could lead to a spike of coronavirus cases when residents return to the facilities.
Nursing Home Safety Concerns
Visiting restrictions, staffing issues, and a lack of personal protective equipment are also impacting resident safety.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been particularly vocal about reopening schools and avoiding public mask mandates and business closers. In September, he also lifted visitor restrictions to nursing homes, assisted living facilities (ALFs), adult family-care homes, adult group homes and other long-term care facilities.
However, facilities must meet a long list of requirements for allowing visitation and many have continued to deny access to family and friends. Requirements include no COVID cases for 14 days, adequate PPE for facility staff, and adequate capacity at referral hospitals.
The law also requires guests have adequate personal protective equipment.
Unfortunately, there continue to be reports about serious shortage of PPE, cleaning supplies and other critical equipment and supplies at these facilities. Most are owned by large corporations with little oversight. Even in best of times, maximizing profits is often the focus. Amid the pandemic, many of these operators have been unable or unwilling to secure supplies amid the unprecedented global demand.
Staffing is always an issue in these facilities, as operators run short-staffed and pay minimum wages for comparable jobs within the healthcare industry. Now, amid the increased risks and the demand for trained health-care workers, many have left for jobs with less risk and better pay and working conditions.
Checking on a Loved One in Elder Care
Our nursing home injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral urge you to reach out to friends and loved ones in nursing care or assisted-living facilities this holiday season.
“If you see something, say something” has long been the advice when it comes to ensuring our most vulnerable residents can live out their days with the peace and dignity they deserve. But never has it been more important than during this pandemic.
If your facility does not allow visitors, be proactive in determining why, and under what exemptions of the governor’s order is it disallowing visitors? In many cases, of course, visiting in person is not the best option.
When in-person visiting is not possible, ZOOM and other video conferencing is a great option. A simple tablet computer with the downloaded app can allow even the most tech-challenged family member to stay in virtual communication with friends and loved ones at this most precious time of the year.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.